Representation matters. When I came out about my masculine transgender identity, I quickly realized that modern depictions of transgender people are severely lacking in art and in the media. Most of it is often focused on objectifying trans people, either as sexualized objects or as objects of pity. Being transgender has a history of being treated by artists as an experiment in gender and performance, or as a political statement simply in the act of being. This can manifest in sexualization and sensationalism. But what if the depiction of such identities could be met with empathy instead? My interest lies in the creation of beautiful, gentle images that do not do violence to the people depicted. It is my goal to focus not on the differences between bodies, mine and those of a cisgender audience, but on the depth and breadth of experience and personhood of the individual. I aim to explore the dimensionality and depth of experiences and construction of identity, both positive and negative, in an age in which we are finally beginning to see preliminary positive transgender representation.
Each piece in FRAGILE CONSTRUCTIONS is an invitation to the viewer to consider the transgender experience on my terms, emphasizing intimacy, vulnerability, delicacy, and empowerment. The series consists of nine individual pieces, which were created by adhering glass enamel decals to panes of kiln-fused glass. Each is small enough to fit in the palm of the hand, but together act as lenses through which to view the breadth of a single individual’s experience. Each image has been separated into three different layers, which shift depending on the light and the angle, never seen exactly the same way in any two moments.
FRAGILE CONSTRUCTIONS is an attempt to introduce transgender imagery that depicts the individual with respect and dignity. Instead of relying on the archetypal iconography of drag queens, I am creating my own visual vocabulary to describe how it feels and what it means to be transgender. My identity is not one dimensional. I am an entire person. I deserve to be depicted as such.