Damon Arhos (b. 1967) is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, curator, and social activist whose work explores and unfolds queer culture. Arhos seeks to promote love and acceptance while investigating social and political environments surrounding gender roles and sexual orientation.
Arhos creates installations that reference popular culture while infusing themes that reflect his identity. He frequently uses repetition, appropriation, and everyday situations to explore multifaceted concepts. In addition to drawing, painting, and collage, he employs installation, video, and other media as means of expression.
Driven by an interest in portraiture, he has developed diverse expressions of the self and of historical figures who have significance in the LGBTQ+ community. His large-scale portrait Matthew Shepard Was A Target hangs in the Denver, Colorado headquarters of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. More recently, he has employed digital photography to merge self-portraits with those of diverse role models, using the resulting images as inspiration for paintings.
Arhos has exhibited work with Ortega y Gasset Projects and NOGO Arts in New York City; Catalyst Contemporary in Baltimore, Maryland; Connersmith, DC Arts Center, and IA&A at Hillyer in Washington, DC; and E.A.S.T. and the People’s Gallery in Austin, Texas – among others. He has served as an artist-in-residence at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson and is a former semifinalist for The Trawick Prize.
His affiliations include or have included STABLE, Washington Printmakers Gallery, and DC Arts Studios in Washington, DC; as well as Art Alliance Austin, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, and the Pump Project Art Complex in Austin, Texas.
Arhos graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore with an MFA in studio art, as well as from The University of Texas at Austin with master’s degrees in business administration and journalism. He teaches studio art and art history courses at Bowie State University. He lives and works in the Washington, DC metro area.
Via my art practice, I seek to expose the destructive nature of prejudice while advocating for compassion. I create artworks that reference popular culture while infusing themes that reflect my identity. I frequently use repetition, appropriation, and everyday situations to explore multifaceted concepts. In addition to drawing, painting, and collage, I employ installation, video, and other media as means of expression.
Driven by an interest in portraiture, I have developed diverse expressions of myself and of others. I often incorporate individuals or objects that have a distinct connection to my past, yet that intentionally present conflicting narratives of accomplishment and defeat. These subject matters tap cultural phenomena that speak to many and aim to yield connections among shared life experiences.
Ultimately, illumination occurs when vastly disparate situations sit side-by-side. It is why I create installations that often pit optimism against despair. In many ways, these dichotomies define all of our lives. I hope that by presenting them, everyone opens their hearts and minds to one another. I believe these expressions bring people together in the spirit of love and mutual respect.