Ourselves: Transgender and Non-Binary Artists @ URI Providence Campus

URI Feinstein Providence Campus Arts and Culture Program


OURSELVES:  An exhibition of transgender and non-binary artists making work about the trans experience curated by Caleb Cole

November 5 - December 6

Gallery Night Reception and Performances on November 15 from 5-9pm

The exhibit features the artwork of area artists Chai Anstett, Sam Bodian, Ria Brodell, Eli Brown, Caleb Cole, Leah Corbett, Arlo Crateau, Catherine Graffam, Jamezie, Rob Lorino, Cobi Moules, Lenny Schnier, Austen Shumway, J. Turk and Creature Karin Webb.

Presented in support of the URI Honors Colloquium, Reimagining Gender: Voices, Power, Action, the works in the exhibit explore notions of Gender Identity and how we read gender pertaining to transgender and gender fluidity.

Chai Anstett is a photographer from Berkshire County, Massachusetts who is currently living in Cambridge, MA. They are studying photography at Lesley Art + Design, formerly known as The Art Institute of Boston, and are expected to graduate in May 2019. Their work focuses on narratives about gender inspired by their personal experiences. Through portraiture, they discuss gender as it relates to expression, visibility, and identity.

Ria Brodell, whose series: Butch Heroes was started in 2010 after making the painting Self Portrait as a Nun or Monk, circa 1250, thinking about what life would have been like in a different century. Joining the church, becoming a nun or a monk, was one option for those who did not want to enter into a heterosexual marriage or conform to the strict gender roles of their time. “Homosexuals” were called to a lifetime of chastity or service to the church, but the artist thought, queer people of the past must have found other ways to live, and I wanted to find out how they did so.

Eli Brown is a multidisciplinary artist - drawing, writing, performance, sculpture, video, and creating participatory projects.  His projects explore the histories and futurities of queer and trans subjectivities, communities, and intimacies, and deal with anthropocentrism as it relates to conceptions of evolution and species.

Caleb Cole, a former altar server, scout, and 4-H Grand Champion in Gift Wrapping, who developed a fascination with the junk that people leave behind.  At the heart of this work is a fascination with ambiguities and inconsistencies, an interest in negotiating areas of ‘grey.’ Traces began as pictorials in gay men’s magazines from the 1980s and 1990s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Men’s bodies exposed, on display, are then excised and replaced by hand with pieces of other images in the sequence.  Tracing the edges of their bodies with a blade is both tender and violent, and the resulting collages leave marks of absence that weigh heavy with loss. The work explores what it means to be seen, to be vulnerable, and speaks to access and interest in queer and trans bodies, gendered notions of desire, and the elements of ourselves that we hide from view.

Men’s fear of appearing feminine is in part a fear of appearing at all.  To Be Seen, looked at and objectified in the way that women are on a daily basis. Masculinity can act as armor against that exposure, but masculinity’s protective fortress can also be a prison that cuts men off from others and themselves.  The work in To Be Seen questions men’s and the artists own relationship with femininity, as well as the ways that beauty is gendered and which bodies have access to it. When femininity’s value is dismissed, characterized as frivolous, artificial, weak, manipulative, and irrational, not only does this serve to disempower women, but everyone suffers. To Be Seen is not only about this loss, but about drawing from the strength of femmes of all genders across history and seeking to retain the joy in queerness, transness, and femininity.

Leah Corbett is a non-binary queer photographer and artist, whose work is focused specifically on portraiture. Themes of their artwork includes gender nonconformity, identity, sexuality (and lack thereof), queerness, social justice, unconventional relationships and family, and the idea of home and personal/domestic space.

Catherine Graffam is a painter, curator, educator and dog mom.  The featured work is a collection of paintings, drawings, prints and collected objects documenting an autobiographical narrative of her queer identity over time.  Each piece of the installation has been created or accrued over the last 10 years. They represent a slice in time reflecting on relationships, sexuality, gender and their importance in the creation of art. “It's simply the residue of a bunch of sad queer feelings barfed onto the wall."

Jamezie is a transgender artist in sculpture, performance, printmaking, and philosophy. In their free time James rides bikes, does witchcraft, writes zines about mental health, radical sobriety, and gender issues, wears cute dresses, drinks the blood of cis men, and yells at cops.

Rob Lorino (they/them/theirs pronouns) is a nonbinary photographer who primarily works in self-portraiture.  Their photographs draw from pop culture, mythology, and beyond to craft a narrative utilizing a dramatic and punchy aesthetic.   It's through dressing up and adopting different personas that Rob was able to begin to reconstruct a personal identity and discover a non-binary identity.  Most of the characters Rob embodies are confident, powerful, and exuberant because we so often see the pain and hardships involved in being queer. There can be so much joy in being queer as well, and through this work, Rob aims to subvert the tragic narrative so often assigned to queer people in our society,  to celebrate both the joys and struggles of being queer in my work, while simultaneously infusing explicit queerness onto recognizable elements of the classic art canon.

Cobi Moules Through the re-creation and alteration of New Kids on the Block (NKOTB) posters, trading cards and magazine clippings is re-addressing his childhood obsession with NKOTB while seeking to reclaim his lost boyhood. As a late blooming transgender guy, this reclamation is especially important as it takes inventory of his youthful desires and reconstructs them with an empowered hindsight. During a time in which he was unable to follow his own instincts, Cobi quietly navigated queer relationships with those gorgeous and unattainable heartthrobs at the center of his daydreams. Moving back and forth between lust and friendship, Cobi has created the childhood relationships that never could have been. Re-exploring his former loves and imagining his life with each member of the band.

Lenny Schnier is a mixed-media artist. At the core of their work lies an interest in the resonant overlap between the introspective nature of drawing and their trans experience. Lenny's work is deeply personal and reflects an emotional and cerebral engagement with queerness, the body, and Schnier’s lived experiences as trans femme. Schnier's work employs methods of direct representation such as with drawing and painting and abstraction through painting and sculpture. They often blend these methods through collage and assemblage installation.

J. Turk is a writer, performer and multimodal maker exploring intersections of language and bodies, producing works across boundaries of material, platforms, and taste. They consider how bodies form, shift and alter themselves, describing this process as a method of translating physicality.

Creature Karin Webb "Listen. No Speaking. Touch." is a meditation on the artist to become, the human they are presently and the rules they’ve needed to break or ask permission to explore along the way. Its performance is an invitation for viewers and participants to grow with them, to experience communication non-verbally, to offer, accept, as well as to hold boundaries, and ultimately to risk being present with another human intimately.

URI Feinstein Providence Campus 1st and 2nd floor Lobby Galleries

80 Washington Street, Providence, RI 02903

Hours: Mon. – Thurs. 9-9, Fridays and Saturdays 9-5, Closed Sundays and Holidays

For information call 401-277-5206 or email uri.artsandculture@gmail.com or visit uri.edu/ceps/prov/arts

Follow us on twitter @URIprovarts All events are free and open to the public.