THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D – Featured Artist, Johnnay Leenay

1. In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZE/D? I am a directing apprentice/co-directing Morning Rituals with powerhouse Lisa Marie Brimmer for the brilliant Rica De La Concha!
2. Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I? Queer and Trans folks need spaces dedicated to sharing their complex lived experiences with other queer and trans folks. It is crucial for us to see other people who experience similar struggles, victories, and worries and it is equally important to be able to see the spectrum of what it means to embrace these identities today. It allows the community to be vulnerable with one another and to be critical.  Stories are most powerful when they are for us, by us, and about us and The Naked I fully commits to this.
3. What aspects of your identity do you hope to express through your involvement with THE NAKED I? My blackness and queerness. My need to be around artists who dream far beyond this world and allow me to do the same.
4. Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? I have a hard time defining myself as an artist. I am just starting to feel comfortable using the word curator and convener but that is the beauty of this production. It allows you to test, and screw up, and learn, and grow. Artist have such a special place in the world and I am trying to be as inspiring as I have been inspired.
5. What social issues are important to you and how do they inform your work? Some days I feel like a walking talking social issue. I am an outspoken mixed race queer feminist. All of my identities inform how I view the world and that informs how I view art. I am envisioning a world where all my identities are welcomed and embraced and art allows me to get closer and closer to this utopia that I am redefining every day.

6. What other artists or shows have inspired you?Erin Sharkey and Junauda Petrus give me goosebumps. Whatever they touch is gold. Adja Gildersleve forces me to question and embrace my blackness. Albert Conteh. His vulnerability on stage allows me to feel soft. Sun Yung Shin is my favorite person to follow on Facebook. Mackenzie Owens. If I could buy all of her work I would. I could go on and on. The Twin Cities are overflowing with talent! You aren’t paying attention if you are not inspired.

7. When not involved in this production, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies? Exploring the queer art scene, gearing up for Queertopia 2018, celebrating the 14 days of Valentine’s Day, trying to find the perfect pair of thrifted overalls, facetiming with my best friends, eating ice cream, and pretending Lena Waithe is my girlfriend.

8. Finish this sentence: I feel the most naked when…….  I feel understood.

THE NAKED I: RECOGNIZED performs February 2-11 at Minnsky Theatre. Click here for more information and to reserve tickets now!