Artists Statement

By , January 7, 2011 5:06 pm

I’m working on an artists statement for a few grants, and figured I’d share what I have so far. I’d love any thoughts or suggestions.

As a transgender child, there existed few depictions of people I could identify as like me. The vast majority of characters I viewed seemed happy with (or at least unaware of) themselves as gendered beings: on stage, on TV, in film, on the written page. Of few exceptions, the minuscule minority who were identified as “trans,” most of those were sensationalized, dehumanized, ridiculed, or worse: Jerry Springer, The Crying Game, whispered locker room jokes about “chicks with dicks.” My work as a performance artist explores the performance of identity, of my own transition from male to female. I refuse to accept that the only depictions of trans people are offensive and belittling, told by and for a non-trans audience. My multi-media solo productions – composed of storytelling, video, movement, playful skips and jumps, enlightening self-discovery, accusatory glances, awkward pauses, and more – question gender, self-expression, and what it means to be at home in one’s own body.

I am particularly excited to use a wide range of techniques and media in my performances. The human experience cannot be captured solely through text, or movement, or audio, or video, and needs those components and more to even scratch the surface of our shared humanity. My struggle to understand my identity and my gender has taken many forms over the years, which feeds into my attempts to share that struggle with others. At some moments, metaphor and humor are most effective. Another time, a moment of personal narrative. Perhaps myth and a challenge to the gods will make sense of my journey, or a simple conversation with a friend at a coffee house. Above all, I view my task as one of translation – of allowing those around me to make sense of one of the least understood and most reviled populations in modern society – and of empowerment – of allowing other LGBT audience members to see a true and honest reflection of themselves.

Storytelling is activism. From our first interactions with language, we want to tell stories of our own life, and to hear tales of adventure. And while I don’t have the background or skill-set for politics, but I have intimate experience with the power of the spoken word. I can’t vote on legislation or speak directly to power, but I make a point to humanize my transgender experience. What good is the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell if gay men and women are still being beat and killed, gay students still committing suicide? My art, my performances, take a stand that I exist. Others like me exist. My Sisyphean task is to change the tone of how trans people are viewed, how trans narratives are portrayed and discussed.

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