Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt: The Story of One of the Few Artists at the Stonewall Uprising

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We are thrilled to be back with a new episode of the Hyperallergic podcast. 

For our one hundredth episode, we spoke with legendary collage and mixed media artist Tommy Lannigan-Schmidt. His works, made from crinkly saran wrap and tin foil, emulate the gleam of precious metals and jewels in Catholic iconography. They reference his upbringing as a working class kid and altar boy in a Catholic community in Linden, New Jersey, where tin foil was an expensive luxury they could rarely afford. But they also hold memories of where he found himself as a teenager: the LBGTQ+ street life and art community of New York City, which led to his participation in the 1969 Stonewall Uprising

Lanigan-Schmidt is as much a visual artist as he is a storyteller. We climbed up to his fourth floor walk-up in Hell's Kitchen, where, surrounded by teetering piles of books and artwork, he regaled us with tales about artists like Jack Smith and Andy Warhol, his decision to leave his hometown as a penniless teenager, his steadfast identity as a working class artist, his conversion to Russian Orthodox Christianity, what changed for gay artists in New York between the 1960s and today, and of course, his recollection of that historic night at the Stonewall.

We know you’ll enjoy this artist’s sparkling humor and singular vision as he shares reflections on his life and this critical moment in history.

We also talked with Ann Bausum, author of Stonewall, Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights, about the significance of the uprising. She also shared some of her own first-hand recollections of segregation in 1960s America. 

The music in this episode was written by Garen Gueyikian, with the exception of one track by Dr. Delight, courtesy of Soundstripe. 

A selection of Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt’s work will be on display at a show titled Open Hands: Crafting the Spiritual at Saint Louis University’s Museum of Contemporary Religious Art until May 19, 2024. 

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Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt: The Story of One of the Few Artists at the Stonewall Uprising
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