Voyages: Chapter 4 Tickets are on Sale Now
Local drag artist Devon Vaow to explore themes of adaptation and environmentalism at Voyages: Chapter 4
Tickets are on sale now for the fourth installation of Voyages, the National Aquarium's after-hours event series for adults. On November 16, voyagers will experience an immersive blend of adaptation and environmentalism at Voyages: Chapter 4 with featured artist Devon Vaow, also known as Evon Dior Michelle. As a drag artist, Vaow's art will use drag techniques to illustrate different adaptations and to highlight drag's artistry.
When approached to embark on this Voyages chapter, Vaow knew he wanted to focus on adaptations, drawing parallels between nature's transformations and the resilience of the Baltimore queer community.
As part of his research, Vaow toured the exhibits at the National Aquarium, including the Surviving Through Adaptation exhibit. This exhibit highlights how animals have changed their behaviors, appearances and more to adapt to their surroundings in the natural world.
When asked about his inspiration, Vaow explained, "Every organism on the planet has to adapt. Everyone can relate to adaptation in some way. When bringing this project about drag to such a large forefront, it's important to find something that everyone could relate to."
Vaow also collaborated with Aquarium experts and other scientists and consultants to deepen his understanding of adaptations, including drag performer and environmentalist Wyn Wiley, also known as Pattie Gonia, queer scientist advocate Dr. Lauren Esposito and evolutionary biologist Dr. Shane Campbell-Staton. These conversations influenced Vaow's art, highlighting the importance of adaptation in nature and within the LGBTQIA+ community.
"There is so much queerness in nature that isn't talked about in the science world," Vaow explained. "I think challenging the mindset can change the thesis about how we think animals adapt or perceive situations. Before having these conversations with the experts, I would not have known that people in influential spaces were asking these questions today."
Vaow's art for Voyages is rooted in the concept of "cerebral drag," a form of drag that prompts contemplation and questions. He will be joined by local drag queens Sapphire Starr Dupree, Tiara Missou-Sidora, Virya Shavasana, and Stealya-Manz Blue, who will showcase physical, behavioral, and physiological adaptations in nature through their performances.
Above all, Vaow hopes the performances resonate with guests and show them that adaptations are beautiful.
"Most people come to a drag show, and we come out on stage already done," Vaow explained. "So, to kind of deconstruct that and show that step-by-step process will hopefully create more of an appreciation for drag and allow people to leave feeling more comfortable with themselves. Changing and adapting can be a scary thing, but it can also be a great thing."
The immersive event will feature projections, music, lights, and interactive elements, followed by a killer after-party drag floor show emceed by Evon Dior Michelle and DJ Rosie Hicks, with performers Stealya-Manz Blue, Sapphire Starr Dupree, Virya Shavasana, Tiara Missou-Sidora and, special guest, Pattie Gonia. Local food and drink vendors include The Empanada Lady, Our Time Kitchen and Sistahs' Sweets with a bar menu curated by Pamela Bang, creative cocktail coordinator from the Golden West Café.
"Voyages: Chapter 4 is your passport to a world where art meets evolution. As our featured artist this year, Devon Vaow, takes the stage, we are invited to witness the magic of adaptation through the vibrant art of drag," shares National Aquarium's Community Engagement Manager Sarah Doccolo. "His collaboration with the National Aquarium is an inspiring testament to the power of embracing change. We hope you'll join us for a night where drag, nature, and the Baltimore queer community unite, encouraging us all to find beauty in adaptation."
Voyages: Chapter 4 takes place on November 16, 2023, from 6 to 11 pm. Guests should plan to arrive promptly at 6 to walk the red carpet for some exciting photo opportunities. Tickets are on sale now.