TRANSCEND Artist Statement
“The more we are willing to become authentic rather than conventional, and the more unique, unconventional, or creative a being we are… the more we need to eschew conditioning for aliveness.” ~Brené Brown
Transgender is not just about one experience, not linear and not simple. Each transgender person is unique with incredibly diverse experiences yet we are united in a common struggle. Portraits in this series are of individuals living their lives out in the open with courage, authenticity and commitment to integrity over safety.
Deliberately omitting natural skin tones, vibrant rainbow colors are used to take pride in our intersectional identities uniting us in celebration. All clothing is depicted in gray-scale, which helps (especially in the cases of many fashion trailblazers) to not distract from the individual represented while carefully respecting their style. The vast blue sky is in direct response to the oppression and erasure from public space experienced by transgender people and is an homage to reclaiming space for this community.
This work wouldn’t be possible without social media, which has allowed the artist to find and paint people, regardless of geography, who are telling their stories and living their lives openly as trans /nonbinary. The title of each piece includes the individual’s first name, location, and @ Instagram handle which the artist encourages people to follow in order to learn more about each subject. This portrait series aims to help unravel oppression and generate respect for the transgender community through a belief that respect comes from understanding. Sharing trans stories is our path to understanding ourselves and each other. Many trans people face dehumanizing and oppressive messages daily. POC transwomen and transfemmes are at the highest risk of violence, discrimination and houselessness so it’s essential their voices be amplified and given the respect they deserve. Transgender youth should be able to see space for themselves in the fine art world. Plenty of research has demonstrated the power of seeing faces and bodies, like our own, as beautiful and revered. Elevating authentic stories helps to empower communities.