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The Resilient Art of Chase Irvin: An Ode to Rest and Healing

Chase Irvin premiered her exhibit, titled "I’ll Stay In," in Strut’s gallery earlier this year.

Chase’s work is more than a collection of art; it is a sanctuary that pays homage to the inner lives of those often unseen within the queer community—the tired, the introverted, the unwell. It is a tribute to the power of rest, a fundamental yet frequently overlooked aspect of our lives.

Chase’s personal journey with illness, having contracted COVID-19 twice in 2022 and battling health issues that led to monthly doctor visits, brought forth an examination of the reality that life could no longer proceed as it once did. The bed became a canvas for ideas. By doing nothing, Chase found the power to do everything. And now, Chase is sharing what was learned through a palette of colors. The largest pieces in the “I’ll Stay In” echo this sentiment, standing as bold affirmations of rest’s reviving nature.

Chase Irvin discusses their work at Strut

This exhibition stirred something within me, particularly during a moment in my Black, gay men’s support group when a prayer was shared: “I hope you suffer less and suffer less sooner.” Chase’s story, however, inspired a shift and meaningful expansion, leading to another complementary, heartfelt invocation: “I hope you rest more, and I hope you rest more sooner.” It’s my truest desire, along with Chase, that everyone, especially Black folks not only hear that message, but believe it to be true for themselves.

Rest is a powerful and revolutionary act, particularly for Black individuals and other marginalized communities, because it stands in defiance of a society that often demands constant productivity and undervalues self-care. Taking time to rest can be a form of resistance and a reclaiming of autonomy over one’s body and time, and Chase’s “I’ll stay in” can become a refrain that’s declarative. There’s no asking for permission in Chase’s assertion. It’s final. “I’ll stay in.”

Chase’s artistic approach is informed by the work of others, such as oil painter Danielle McKinney, whose depictions of leisure resonate with her own interpretations of exhaustion and weariness. Carrie Mae Weems’s kitchen table series, a photographic exploration of the dynamics within Black families, and Noah Davis’s establishment of the underground museum are additional sources of inspiration.

To learn from these forerunners constitutes one aspect, but to forge Chase’s own style and career presents another aspect. As a member of an art collective and Root Division, Chase has found security and confidence in their practice. The collective spirit, the shared creativity, has not only been an anchor for them but has also fostered a network that feeds into new opportunities.

Looking ahead, Chase Irvin continues along their artistic journey with The Oddkin art opening at Hashimoto Contemporary on May 4. Furthermore, Chase is venturing into the realm of curation with a show at Root Division featuring other queer artists. Titled “Just Another June,” it encapsulates everyday queerness and is currently accepting submissions—an exciting new chapter in their burgeoning curatorial career.

Chase’s advice to fellow artists and creators is heartfelt and simple: seek out those who share your values and messages. It’s about making connections, being brave enough to reach out, and affirming one another in our endeavors. At the end of every day, Chase hopes their art will offer viewers a sense of ease and self-acceptance, prompting choices that lead to healthier lifestyles.



About the author

Charles Orgbon III

Charles Orgbon III (he/him) is an environmental sustainability consultant by day, and freelance writer by night. When it comes to writing, Charles has done a variety of creative projects, from personal essays to news journalism to even comics and songwriting. In 2020, for example, he released his first EP, "A Survivor's Reward." He loves writing about identity, culture, and sexuality.