Seeing and Being Seen at a Bushwick Drink and Draw

Seeing and Being Seen at a Bushwick Drink and Draw
Ladies Life Draw sessions featuring Lovejoy on the left and Adesina to the far right. Irina Groushevaia/Bklyner.

BUSHWICK — On the third floor of a 1931 walk-up on Irving Avenue in Bushwick lives an abstract artist. The lavender-painted stairwell leads to an old wooden bench from a theater with a sign “coats and shoes here.” The hallway is overwhelmingly full of clothing. Laura Poladsky is hosting another iteration of Ladies Life Draw (LLD), a drink and draw for non-binary and female-identifying cis and trans people.

LLD creates a space to validate their bodies and experience, as well as enjoy a night of creativity and community. The life draw sessions originally started two and a half years ago because Poladsky couldn’t afford to go to any herself, but was craving the experience — it was her favorite class in art school. Bushwick boasts an ever-increasing number of drink-and-draws, but none are centered around women or the queer community.

“I have friends that will get naked for me,” she told Bklyner smiling. “I was actually begging people to come in the beginning, ‘c’mon, it’ll be fun, let’s all hang out!’ At the time I wasn’t out, even to myself, so I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew I wanted a women-centric space.”

It grew organically over time, hand-in-hand as Poladsky started to understand her sexuality and gender more. There were growing pains: the wording, the understanding of pronouns, proper representation, and diversity of the live models.

“I was almost as ignorant as the next straight person,” Poladsky confessed while laughing. “It became very clear that people were hungry for a [queer art ] space, myself included, and it felt very obvious that it would become that.”

There’s not a lot of women-centric spaces in the art community, explained Poladsky, and most drink and draws happen at bars, rather than in a studio or more intimate space. While LLD does offer wine and CBD drops during sessions, as well as snacks during the models’ break, the space isn’t focused on drinking.

“My hope is that it feels safe, natural, and inclusive, even though it is exclusive,” Poladsky chuckled. “When I get tears in class, which happens often, it has to do with people feeling seen and validated, and that’s really beautiful.”

Painting from LLD session by @lorimc27. Courtesy of Laura Poladsky/LLD.

Mopelola Adesina is a non-binary person, who has been a figure model for over three years, is a painter and mental health advocate, who runs a humanism podcast.

“Art for me is very fluid,” Adesina told Bklyner. “When I’m in queer art spaces I feel very seen, I feel visible, I know I will be respected regardless. But in a general art space, I [usually] feel uncomfortable, because I know I will get gendered as a woman and put on a pedestal as a Black artist. When I work for NYU or Hunter college, students draw me very feminine, and I don’t mind that, but at LLD I was looking at everybody’s drawings and it was so fluid… it’s heartwarming.”

Moss Lovejoy is a professional dancer, personal trainer, and a sex worker, who also identifies as non-binary. Lovejoy recently celebrated six months post-top-surgery, a cosmetic procedure to masculinize the chest, and started figure modeling a few months ago.

“I’m typically read as female, and it comes with misgendering,” Lovejoy shared. “[At LLD] I feel really safe and feel seen, it’s really special. I’m six months post-op now and having a place to live in this new version of my body and display it where I don’t have to feel shame or discomfort is absolutely liberating.”

Jennifer Keltos, a classically trained artist and painter, told Bklyner that the event is welcoming and collaborative with no sense of competition or judgment among the models, “I have never witnessed this before LLD. It’s wonderful how casual and playful it all feels and it’s a testament to what Laura has created that people feel welcome and safe to do this.”

Megan Mulholland, a queer woman and illustrator, told us it’s important to have queer art spaces to fully bring one’s self to the process of creating and being vulnerable, “It was very freeing to draw the beauty and perfection that are gender non-conforming and queer bodies — It’s an act of seeing and being seen at the same time.”

Poladsky hopes to continue expanding LLD and it’s concepts, like incorporating more readings and community discussions. For now, Poladsky will continue the bi-weekly sessions at her home and studio.

“I always want to understand what more people want and don’t want, and what would feel good and not, and that’s what I’m hungry for now,” she said.

If you would like to model or join a class, contact LLD on Instagram or via email: ladieslifedraw.nyc@gmail.com

LLD drawing of Lovejoy. Irina Groushevaia/Bklyner.

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