Make Visible is an ongoing, community-led project developed by New Zealand artist, curator and activist Shannon Novak and is aligned with his work featured in the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art’s Asia Pacific Triennial-10 (QAGOMA APT-10). 

The aim of this initiative is to grow support for the LGBTQI+ community worldwide by making visible challenges and triumphs for this community.  

This project seeks to: 

  1. Reduce rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide in the LGBTQI+ community; 
  1. Create positive, meaningful, and sustained change for the LGBTQI+ community; 
  1. Centre and amplify LGBTQI+ BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) and Brotherboy/Sistergirl voices; 
  1. Collect, archive, and share LGBTQI+ history; and 
  1. Increase awareness and knowledge of the LGBTQI+ community. 


This project included detailed formative assessment and ongoing community participation and co-design, process evaluation and formal research and evaluation phases; including ethnographic, auto-ethnographic, qualitative and action research paradigms; and practice-led frameworks, including non-traditional (artistic) research outputs. 

Further, artworks/arts contributions made by/for the exhibition enabled new discoveries to emerge through the artmaking process and in its completion.   


Formative assessment commenced with the artist (SN) approaching a researcher and clinical/health psychologist (AB) to explore ways in which art could be used as a dissemination tool for sharing research findings with new (and non-academic) audiences to positively influence social change. 

This led to a submission of works per the QAGOMA APT-10 and subsequent “Artist In Residence” program at the University of Southern Queensland; with various branching projects and initiatives creating a “ripple affect”, including (but not limited to): 

  • artmaking/reflection workshops for students and community members 
  • university-based art exhibition opening/panel discussion and curators talks 
  • impetus for a diversity and inclusion research symposium 
  • creation of artistic works surrounding contemporary research (e.g. chemsex, trans incarceration) 
  • the launch of a LGBTIQA+ health and wellbeing needs survey 
  • connections forged with LBGQTIQA+ community members, artists, academics/researchers, students, clinicians and industry partners—including the Curious Arts Festival. 

A research ethics application has been progressed alongside Make Visible to conduct the transformational and lived experiences of those involved in: 

  • the process of organising the project/exhibition; 
  • creating/curating artistic works for the project/exhibition; and 
  • viewing/participating in the events/workshops. 


This project meaningfully and effectively raises awareness of the unique strengths/challenges experienced by members of rainbow communities through art as a medium—sparking other rippling projects to sustain the project’s mission and grow momentum and reach across community, industry and academic settings—through various learning/teaching, research and service initiatives. 

This project provides a useful template for bridging art with science to work towards enduring positive changes within society among seemingly disparate (yet inter-connected) groups. This model can be readily adapted to other contexts and priority groups to enable and promote advocacy, awareness-raising and much needed social change. 


  • Amy Mullens, University of Southern Queensland 


  • Shannon Novak, self-represented 
  • Beata Batorowicz, University of Southern Queensland 
  • Annette Bromdal, University of Southern Queensland 
  • Brodie Taylor, University of Southern Queensland