John Thomas Paradiso
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My work is an ongoing exploration of identity. It is influenced by the impact of the AIDS epidemic during the 80's and 90's, internal and external homophobia, sexual desire, and growing old. At times, the work is a statement about my experiences navigating a sex–positive lifestyle among a prevalence of sex-negative messages. At other times, the work is my way to honor my feminine side while striving to be more masculine.

Before the year 2000, my work was about life and death. Since then, it is about life in general.

After moving to Washington, DC in 2001, and reflecting on past visits to the AIDS Memorial Quilt on the National Mall, ACT-UP's first political funeral, and the march on Washington for LGBT rights (In the 1990's), I was inspired to make quilts that spoke of survival and sexual liberation. This became my MEN WORKING series, which led to the SOFT PORN, and the PAPER QUILT/COLLAGE series. The three series combine images of men and masculinity, using working methods that are considered traditionally feminine, such as sewing, embroidery, hand quilting, and scrap booking.

Series Information:

In the SOFT PORN series, I hand stitch contour drawings of men taken from gay male pornography. Pornography, for me, has been both a sexual outlet and a place to find inspiration. As a young gay man, pornography served as my first gay sexual education. As a maturing gay man, i use embroidery as a medium that channels the stich work I watched my grandmothers do throughout their lives. This series takes the overt sexuality of pornography and places it into the context of nostalgia, the home sewn, and a more romantic point of view. ( I also include my Leather Pansy pieces in this series)

In the MENWORKING series, quilts are made of items found at construction sites, images of men appropriated from the internet and fabrics with pansy prints. Men Working, Caution, Danger Do Not Enter are some of the signs and symbols I use metaphorically to refer to messages influenced by disease and homophobia. I use images from the internet to reference sexual exploration in modern life for gay men. The pansy fabrics speak to derogatory slurs, while helping to make the pieces pretty.

In the PAPER QUILT/COLLAGE series, I use found images on paper and collage the pieces together. In some pieces I use machine stitching for detail then mount the piece on wood panels, in others I collage paper and fabric.

My use of pansy imagery refers to its historical use as a disparaging term for a man or boy who was considered either effeminate or homosexual. The irony is that the pansy is a very hardy flower. A term once meant to be ugly and hurtful remaining resistant and pretty.

The Fairy collages are inspired by the homogenization of queer culture into the mainstream. I couple found images from old magazines with pansy fabric as a means to honor gay history that includes fighting for a place within a larger sexual and Cultural revolution. This led me to expand my fabric choices in the collage work.

In my work, I try to represent a Queer fluid masculinity that can speak to the gay, bi, and trans male experience. For me the work is a celebration of masculinity that is informed by the feminine.



John Paradiso earned a BFA at the State University of New York (Purchase) and his MFA at the State University of New York (Buffalo). He is a mixed media artist and describes his work as metaphorical and based upon such issues as identity, sexuality, health, and love. He has work in private and public collections including the Kinsey Institute, the Leslie Lohman Museum, Stamp Collection at the University of Maryland, College Park, and a portfolio of seven photographs in the National Picture Collection at the Library of Congress, (AIDS portfolio)

John has served as a health educator and caregiver in the HIV/AIDS community for over twenty years where he developed educational programs and provided peer-based counseling. More recently he was a an Artist-in-Residence at the Washington Hospital Center working with adult cancer patients, their families and caregivers.

John is currently the lead Art Consultant for Landex Development,LLC with their new Studio 3807 mixed use property, and the Resident Artist/Curator at Portico Gallery and Studios, Brentwood, MD.




1992, State University of New York at Buffalo, MFA
1989, State University of New York at Purchase, BFA


2019- Studio LACOMBE, Masculine Fiber, Provincetown, MA
2019- Iridian Gallery, Diversity Richmond, Richmond, VA
2009- Magnet, San Francisco, CA2001- Romaine Brooks Gallery, Gay Community Center, Albany, NY
1995- Artopia Gallery, New York, NY
1992- CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, NY                                 


2024- Brentwood Arts Exchange, life in Layers, Brentwood MD
2023- View Art Center, Quilts Unlimited, Old Forge NY
2023- Pyramid Atlantic, 10 x 10 show, Hyattsville NY
2023- Camp Kingston, Barn Wood erotic Art Show, Kingston NY
2023- Rhizome, QU23, Washington, DC
2023- Stephen Street Gallery, CAROUSEL, Bushwick, NY
Silvermine Galleries, QUEERwerks, New Canaan, CT
All Street Gallery, QUEER Knowing,  New York, NY
2022- Not So Innocent, Stitch fetish 8, Palm Springs, CA
2022- Firelands Association for the Visual Arts, The Artist as Quiltmaker, Oberlin, OH
2021-2022-Fabric of a Nation, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA
2021-Harmony Hall Arts Center , Fort Washington, MD
2020- Rio II Gallery, Creative Expressions of Gender Equality, East Harlem, NY
2020- Indianapolis Art Center, Body Building, Indianapolis, IN
2020- Campus Art Gallery, Representation Matters: I See Me, Indiana Univ. Kokomo, IN
2020- Ruby Projects Gallery, That Group Show, Fairfax, VA
2019- Otis Street Gallery, Mount Rainier, MD
2019- Stamp Gallery University of Maryland, College Park, MD
2019- Gallery 102, From the Margins, George Washington University, Washington, DC
2019- Gallery SoHy, Hyattsville, MD
2019- IA&A at Hillyer Gallery, Transcendence, Washington, DC
2019- Waverly Street Gallery, 2019 Invitational, Bethesda, MD
2019- Hive Gallery, Stitch Fetish 7, Los Angeles, CA
2019- Leslie-Lohman Project Space, Passive/Aggressive, New York, NY
2019- SEXXXHIBITION, Art Gym Gallery, Denver, CO
2018- WAS Gallery, TNT Text, Bethesda MD
2018- District of Columbia Arts Center, Queer(ing) Pleasure, Washington DC
2018- Rhizome, Revel, Washington DC
2018- Kaviar Forge & Gallery, The Figure Revealed, Louisville, KY
2018- Waverly Street Gallery, 2018 Invitational, Bethesda, MD
2017- Touch Stone Gallery, One House, Washington, DC
2017- Art House Gallery, Unreliable Narrator, Jersey City, NJ
2017- Brentwood Arts Exchange, County Juried Exhibition, Brentwood, MD
2017- Wells Creek Gallery, Sentient Being/Being Sentient, Cumberland, MD
2017- Artist and Makers II, The Unapproved Thought, Rockville, MD
2017- Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Expanded Visions:Fifty Years of Collecting, New York, NY
2017- Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, One Year Later, Hyattsville, MD
2017- Dineen Hull Gallery, A World Where We Belong, HCCC, Jersey City, NJ
2017- SITE:BROOKLYN, Cut and Paste: Contemporary Collage, Brooklyn, NY                                                                   
2017- Marlboro Gallery, Creative Corridor:Gateway Arts District Artists, MD                                                          
2016- Gallery at 46 Green Street, Art is Home, East Hampton, NY                                                        
2016- Blue Door Art Center, Inclusion Exhibition, Yonkers, NY
2016- NEST Arts Factory, SPUN Exhibition, Bridgeport, CT
2016- Mills Galley, Boston Center for the Arts, Queer Threads Traveling Exhibition, Boston, MA                                                          
2016- Stamp Gallery, University of MD College Park The Shape of Remembering: CAPP at Ten, College Park, MD     2016- Kay Gallery, Black Rock Art Center, Hand Made Explorations in Fiber Art, MD
2015- Decker Galley, Maryland Institute of Contemporary Art, Queer Threads (Traveling), Baltimore, MD
2015- Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Small Works, Provincetown, MA
2015- Williamsburg Art and Historical Society, QUEER WAH, Williamsburg, NY
2015- Stamp Gallery, University of MD College Park, New Arrivals 2015 Exhibition-Collecting Contemporary Art, College Park, MD
2015- Etui Fiber Arts Gallery, SPUN 2015, Larchmont, NY
2015- The Wichita Center for the Arts, Wichita National All Craft Exhibition 2015, Wichita, KS
2015- SOMArts Cultural Center, Connections 2015: Glitter Bomb exhibition, CA
2015- The Joan Hisoaka Gallery, Washington, DC
2015- The Hudson Guild Gallery, The Comedies and Tragedies of Gays and Lesbians, New York, NY
2015- H Street Gallery, Emulsion, Washington DC
2015- Central Booking, Fusion, New York, NY
2014- The Brentwood Art Exchange, Prince George's Sampler, Brentwood, MD
2014- Gallery at 46 Green Street, Hudson, DC
2014- Hillyer Art Space, Washington, DC
2014- Highland Park Art Center Visions and Voices, Highland, IL
2014- Antenna Gallery, True Colors, New Orleans, LA
2014- Fulton Street Gallery, Inside Out, Troy, NY
2014- The Kinsey Institute Annual Juried Show, Bloomington IN
2014- Doris Mae Gallery, Man on Man, Washington DC
2014- Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community, New York, NY
2013- GLAAD’s OUTAuction, New York, NY
2013- Museum of Contemporary Art, Washington DC
2013- Transformer Auction, Washington DC
2013- The Joan Hisoaka Gallery, Washington, DC
2013- The Kinsey Institute Annual Juried Show, Bloomington IN
2013- Art Works Studio, Mount Rainier, MD
2012- Hillyer Art Space, Washington DC
2012- The Kinsey Institute Annual Juried Show, Bloomington IN
2012- Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York, NY
2012- Loudon House: LAL, Lexington KY
2012- Erotic Art Expo, Palm Springs, CA
2011- Lore Degenstein Gallery, Selinsgrove PA
2011- The Kinsey Institute Annual Juried Show, Bloomington IN
2011- Box Factory, Men's Work, San Francisco, CA
2011- GLAAD’s OUTAuction, New York, NY
2010- The Brentwood Arts Exchange, Brentwood MD, Philippa Huges, Juror
2010- Transformer Auction, Washington DC
2010- The Kinsey Institute Annual Juried Show, Bloomington IN
2010- The Brentwood Arts Exchange, Brentwood MD, Lenny Campello, Juror
2009, Transformer Auction, Washington DC
2005- Main Line Art Center, Haverford, PA
2005- Lambda Rising Book Store, Washington, DC, (Site-specific installation)            
2004, Complex B Gallery, Atlanta, GA
2004- Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Albany, NY
2004- Broadway Gallery Inc., New York, NY
2001- Silvermine Guild Arts Center, New Canaan, CT, Bill Arning, Juror                                    
1995- Lennon/Weinberg Gallery, New York, NY1995- Artplace Gallery, New York, NY
1995- Artopia Gallery, New York, NY1994- Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation, New York, NY
1991- CEPA Gallery, Buffalo, NY1989- T.O.B Gallery, Albany, NY
1988- Albany Center Gallery, Albany NY, Duane Michaels, Juror    
1988- Gay Community Center Gallery, Albany, NY 


The University of Maryland College Park, College Park, MD

Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York, NY

The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Bloomington, IN                  

The Libra
ry of Congress, Dept. of Prints and Photographs, AIDS Collection, Washington DC


2019, Queer Holdings, A Survey of the Leslie-Lohman Museum Collection, Edited by Gonzalo Casals and Noam Parness, HIRMER, Artwork, p.141

2018, Wahington Blade, QUEERY: John Paradiso answers 20 gay questions, by Joey DiGuglielmo, artwork with interview.

2017, Surface Design Magazine, Summer Issue, Moving forward: Re-defining the American Textile Conversation, By Karen Hampton, artwork with interview

2017, Queer Threads: crafting identity and community, by John Chaich and Todd Oldham, AMMO, artwork with interview.

2016, Metro Weekly, Fall Arts Preview, full page. September

2014, Washington Post, Review Man on Man at Doris-Mae, Mark Jenkins, February

2014, East City Arts, Review Man on Man at Doris-Mae, Eric Hope, February

2014, New York Times, Queer Threads: Crafting Identity and Community, Holland Cotter, Art in Review, January, Photo with credit

2014, Huffington Post, Using craft art to explore contemporary LBBTQ Culture, by Katherine Brooks, January, 2014

2013, The Archive #48, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art

2009, San Francisco Bay Times, Interview with Sister Dana Van Iquity, Published, September issue

2004, Queer Street, By James McCourt, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
2004, Photo with Credit
2001, Philosophy Dog, The Art of Living with Mans Best Friend, By Breon O’Farrell, Universe Publishing, , Photo with credit,
2000, Creative Time, Inc.- The Daily Dispatch, “SMALL TALK”, May 1-31, 2000, (31 days with photos and text)
1994, Newsline, (The People with AIDS Coalition) January Cover Photo with credit
1993, Art & Understanding, Vol.2, no.1, p.30, Photo with credit



2022, Individual Award for Excellence,The Artist as Quiltmaker, FAVA, Oberlin, OH

2019, Individual Artist Grant, Prince Georges Arts Council

2018, Individual Artist Grant, Maryland State Arts Council

2015, First Place Mary Koch Memorial Award, Wichita Center for the Arts

2015, Individual Artist Grant, Maryland State Arts Council

2010, Jurors Award, All Mixed Up Exhibition, Brentwood Arts Exchange, MD

2009, Individual Artist Grant, Maryland State Arts Council

2005, Individual Artist Grant, Prince Georges Arts Council

2004, ME*MY*SELF Juried Exhibition, Honorable Mention, Complex B

1985, The Shirley Claus Memorial Award in Sculpture, The Junior College of Albany, Albany NY                                                                     


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