'Camouflaged' Creates Memories, Extends a Family

Artist Feather J. Chiaverini Hosts Night of Art, Music and Surprises

BY JASON A. MICHAEL

Feather J. Chiaverini will bring two worlds together and allow for a safe event for LGBTQIA individuals to perform and also escape. BTL Photo: Jason A. Michael

Feather J. Chiaverini is going to throw a giant queer party on Aug. 26 in the Scarab Club's garden. The 21-year-old junior at the College for Creative Studies presents "Camouflaged," a pop-up installation, which "seeks to create a space of contemplative, queer fun by observing, appreciating and showing off the work, time and love that goes into queer party culture."

This work is a personal narrative dealing with Feather's relationship with his "first drag mother." Characters will be performing around a massive flame hoping to gain attention from mother.

"The show that's happening is more concert-esque in reference to the earlier party culture within the queer community," said Chiaverini, a South Florida native, who has a double major in fine arts and fibers textile with a minor in fashion accessories.

"There is a 30-foot flame that's going to be inflated up into the sky that dancers will be going into and out of and my video work will be projected on it."

Chiaverini explained that this is "almost the unmaking of her true self," referring to a poem his mother wrote for him while he was still in the womb called Elwood Buttwinky.

"She just wanted me to get out of her tummy so she could play with me. I've sort of turned this Elwood Buttwinky character into her truest self in her true form," said Chiaverini, adding that he will dress up as his mother dressing up as the character she created.

"I'm trying to understand my mom and her own gender struggles and her struggles within the community, not coming out and raising a family," he said. "Then I'm relating it to this overall queer community in this queer-occupied space and just pretty much throwing a party within Detroit and getting this community together to eventually start another group."

That group, if Chiaverini gets his wish, will be called the House of Mo.

"My mom's name is Maureen but everyone calls her Mo Mo," said Chiaverini. "So the group is based on houses and voguing and all that jazz, but it would actually be a non-profit performance group. So we'd be trying to create this community in which we're able to connect queer youth to a larger group of friends and a larger group of experiences and create spectacular moments."

A graduate of the prestigious New World School of the Arts in Miami, Chiaverini's talent for art showed itself while he was still in elementary school.

"It took a while for my gift for art to emerge," Chiaverini recalled. "It started with drawing in Catholic school. I was so bad at drawing I would cry about it. I just couldn't do it. So my mom got me a sketch book and she's like the only way to get good at something is to practice, practice, practice. So I just drew Marilyn Monroe 24/7. It was like the most cliche thing."

A fourth-grade teacher entered his work into a competition and he won best in show.

"It was a tiny little show, but it was a defining moment in my life," he said.

Chiaverini moved to Detroit when he got a full scholarship at CCS and though it's a big change from where he's from, Chiaverini said he's in love with the Motor City.

"It just felt so right when I got the offer," he said. "I had never visited Detroit either. My mom was like are you sure you want to do this? And I'm like I'm getting out of here. I came here and it just worked out. It felt like home. I love Detroit. I love supporting Detroit. It's a really great place."

And, says Chiaverini, there's one distinct difference from his hometown.

"Everyone here is very comfortable with themselves," he said. "Where everyone in South

Florida is really trying to peacock and show off."

"Camouflaged" is a joint presentation of the Scarab Club and Between The Lines from 6-11 p.m. at 217 Farnsworth St. in Detroit. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://scarabclub.org/.
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