The 18th Annual NEMAA Art-A-Whirl is taking over Northeast Minneapolis May 17-19 when studios and galleries open their doors and sell their artistic wares to the public. Various artists in the GLBT community take part in Art-A-Whirl each year, this year I caught up with Heather “Aych” Wayne who will be displaying her work outside the Q.arma building on Quincy. For more information about Art-A-Whirl, visit www.nemaa.org/art-a-whirl.
How long have you been an artist?
I’ve enjoyed drawing ever since I was little. I loved drawing as a kid and when I was in high school I started doing cartoon-type drawing. I took a break for about ten years and picked it back up three or four years ago. I started drawing and making t-shirts for friends and have been really happy that I jumped back into it.
I see some of your work makes Minnesota and North Dakota pretty friendly with each other. What’s the connection?
My friend, Carrie (in the picture), and other friends lived in North Dakota for a few years and I’d drawn them a picture on a cocktail napkin of Minnesota and North Dakota and they wanted a t-shirt of it. So, I made a t-shirt of it and since then I’ve been selling them in I Like You in Northeast Minneapolis. It just grew from a t-shirt for friends but is a message of friendship–two things getting along.
When I realized that there was more interest in just a couple shirts was when I decided to do more designs and start a business. And it’s grown by people seeing my friends wear the shirts. I’ve tailored a Minnesota and Wisconsin one for someone’s wedding and I get requests for designs and try to do as many as I can.
How did you come up with the Minnesota design with the rainbow and equality sign?
I did a really similar design for the VOTE NO Campaign last year–I did it because I wanted to create something that was entirely happy-feeling, and positive-feeling. It’s something that I that I think about and I’m pretty sensitive to negative comments about gay marriage, which is hard. So, I wanted to do something in response to those feelings. I think it’s hard to do something actively about it, to get a happy and positive message out there to be spread around. I made postcards of the design and sent to some representatives and friends who are either gay and gay supporters as well as family members. That was the idea behind it.
This time, I tailored it to the marriage equality piece. It’s the same type of message that I want to spread–I want people to see it and think positive, happy things. It’s hard to imagine someone hating that design or feeling negative about gay marriage when they look at it.
You recently become engaged. Who is your beloved?
Susan Greve. We met about six years ago but started dating two years ago. The second time I saw her I was very enchanted by her. I felt a spirit connection to her. We had reconnected at her softball game–at Rice and Arlington Fields–and ever since then, it’s been a great thing.
Do you know when you might be tying the knot?
I think this year. I want to do it before the end of the year.
You listed her on your website as an inspiration, along with some other funny things–like Maine hounds–that inspire you.
Yeah, she’s got a great sense of humor. And she’s writer, so we collaborate. She’s really good at words and I’m really visual so it works.
It’s always heartwarming to hear a love story that mixes with a positive message of marriage equality and art. The Minnesota design will be available as postcards or cards at Art-A-Whirl and Aych will also be at Pride this year with more great artwork. Read and see more of Aych at www.theletteraych.com.