Driven by the pleasures and agonies, the frictions and the tensions, of creating a queer body to live in, Betsy Johnson wields language as performance, video, text, and object. Proposing speculative world-making, poetry, empathy, and slowness as urgent political strategies, their work poses questions about the validity of optimism and hope as forms of resistance. The work grapples with the power of language to stun, to soothe, to embolden, and to enrage, as well as the progressive, millennial subject’s relationship to histories of radical leftist thought and action. Betsy’s performances and objects are often built around double meanings, homonyms, homophones, and weirded turns of phrase.
BT SY received an MFA in Studio Arts from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2018, where they taught Intro to Moving Image. They have shown work at Gallery 400 (Chicago, IL), Iceberg Projects (Chicago, IL), Window (Asheville, NC), And Gallery (Jackson, MS), Art in Odd Places (Orlando, FL), A Place Gallery (Orlando, FL), and the Cornell Fine Arts Museum (Winter Park, FL). BT SY was awarded "Best Local Visual Artist" in the Orlando Weekly's "Best of Orlando" Reader's Poll in 2015 and attended the Wassaic Artist Residency in 2017. They are currently an MFA Artist in Residence at Oxbow.