The Christian martyr Saint Sebastian is a complex figure in Western art. He’s been a religious martyr, a patron saint of athletes and of soldiers — and what might arguably be history’s first recorded gay icon.

‘Sebastian in Stained Glass Window.’ Leslie Pierce. Collage. 2011.

“Saint Sebastian: From Martyr to Gay Starlet” will explore the quirky iconography of the saint through contemporary revisions in art, film, performance and poetry. This evening of art and performance will be held 6-9 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 1, at the Friday Cottage Art Space at 1830 Henderson St. (corner of Richland St.) in downtown Columbia.

The event, featuring work by various artists, is being held in conjunction with the SC Pride Festival, which takes place on Saturday, Sept. 3 in Finlay Park. A portion of proceeds will benefit the organization.

Artists include media and performance artist Santiago Echeverry, visual artists Alejandro García-Lemos and Leslie Pierce, filmmaker Betsy Newman and poet Ed Madden.

A Colombian artist and now an associate professor of digital and media art at the University of Tampa, Echeverry works in video and performance art, with a commitment to gay and lesbian human rights. García-Lemos is a visual artist whose work focuses on social issues, especially aspects of immigration, religion and social justice. He is also a founder Palmetto LUNA, an organization promoting Latino arts and culture.

‘The Liberation of Sebastian.’ Alejandro García-Lemos. Linoleum cut on paper. 2011.

Pierce, associate director of public programs and community relations at the Columbia Museum of Art and an active participant in Columbia’s vibrant arts community, has worked in many media, but currently works in collage. Madden, an associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina, is the author of three books of poetry and editor of “Out Loud,” a collection of radio essays from Rainbow Radio, South Carolina’s only gay and lesbian radio show. Newman is a documentary producer for South Carolina ETV, who has for many years specialized in programs on the history and culture of South Carolina.

Admission is $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Ticket price includes a souvenir chapbook of poetry and original art. The event will include DJ and cash bar.

The show is intended for mature audiences. For more information go to: : :

— Compiled from release