Stephanie Mercedes

“I Hold You Close” articulates the precarious emotions of being queer in a society riddled by violence. Using steel, melted weapons, flood lighting sound and motors this installation reflects on my own experiences of queerness and queer love. Rather than framing vulnerability as a weakness, these works invite the viewer to consider vulnerability as a weapon. From afar the installation’s blue light seems vivid. Once you enter the space your eyes adjust and the blueness becomes less apparent. Again when you leave the space, the blueness will become more apart and noticeable. This is a metaphor for queerness. Inside of our own communities we forget we have to contend with out identities. Outside our communities in a heteronormative world we are reminded that we are other. 

“…the hostility frequently expressed against…queer individuals is a function of fear of the undecidability of the (queer) body.” (Nancy J. Hirschmann)


Mercedes is an uncategorized Queer Latinx artist who choreographs large scale performances and installations based on sound. Mercedes transforms weapons into musical installations and works of art. She also excavates missing violent histories. Mercedes has exhibited and performed at the Bronx Museum, the Queens Museum, the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center and the National Gallery of Art. She has been funded by George Soro’s Open Society Foundation, Light Works, NALAC, The Foundation for Contemporary Art, WPA, The DC Commission for the Arts, the GLB Memorial Foundation, the Warhol Foundation and the Clarvit Fellowship. Mercedes has been an artist in residence at: VisArts, Halcyon Art Labs, the Bronx Museum, Montgomery College, Christopher Newport University, SOMA, Lugar a Dudas, Largo das Artes and La Ira de Dios. Mercedes is producing an Opera with CulturalDC in 2022-23.