The last two years I have worked on a project cataloguing my hormone replacement therapy (hrt) based transition from male to female. This has been a long journey but extremely rewarding when I step back and look at the progress I have made both artistically and emotionally. The project consisted of 24 portraits that would track my physical and emotional transition. The only rules were the portrait’s had to be finished in the month they were made and contain a forward facing profile of myself depicted as I saw myself.
These rules allowed for a nuanced look at how my image changed over the months. Some of the portraits feel scarred and ghostly, some appear distorted, while others appear to be an exact copy of what I looked like at that moment.
You can find all 24 portraits by clicking here or visiting the Two Year Hymn page. Sitting in front of a mirror for two years trying to capture my features felt like an ongoing hymn repeated again and again. This piece should be viewed as a whole. However, it can be seen as individual pieces. I have chosen the web based format so you can scroll from 2019 through 2017 and take in the piece from the end to the beginning.
Hey Everyone! I’m excited to have two pieces on display at the Lux Center for the Arts in Lincoln Nebraska. “Gifted” will run from now to December 29th. My work is shown alongside Owen Buffington‘s work. Owen is a recent grad of the MFA program at the University of Arkansas. He was the second person I saw when I first arrived in Fayetteville 2.5 years ago.
My painting of Rain was included in the Fluid Perspectives Exhibition at the Hive Mind, along with Robert Fitzgerald‘s work! If you’re in the area on October 18th come and see the LGBTQ+ exhibition and the many talented artists that were selected. Also be sure to check out Rain’s image in the painting section.
12-4 pm at Hive Mind on October 18th
375 W Exchange St, Akron, OH 44302
So excited to announce that I was selected for an Artist 360 grant through the Mid-Amerca Arts Alliance. I was one of two students who were selected for the Visual Arts category. I’m sharing this honor with Olivia Fredricks.
The Award for students is $1,500 and includes a workshop retreat to help develop a professional understanding of this region and how the arts will play a central role. This award was made possible by the Walton Family Foundation.
An explanation of the Mid-America Arts Alliance and its goals:
Artists 360, a program of Mid-America Arts Alliance made possible through the support of the Walton Family Foundation, is proud to announce the twenty artist recipients of its inaugural project and student awards. Twenty practicing and student artists will be granted a total of $114,000 to further their work in the flourishing Northwest Arkansas area arts community, representing the four counties of Benton, Carroll, Sebastian, and Washington. These artists represent a diversity of communities, a range of Northwest Arkansas educational institutions, and a wide scope of disciplines and projects. A Walton Family Foundation grant recommended by Steuart Walton and Tom Walton allows Artists 360 to provide these direct grants, as well as professional development services for the artists.
Todd Stein, President and CEO of Mid-America Arts Alliance, said, “The Artists 360 program was designed to identify and elevate the Northwest Arkansas area’s leading artists and to address critical gaps in support by providing the funding, professional development, and networking opportunities needed for them to thrive. We are deeply impressed by the depth of talent and range of artistic expression in the region as reflected in these artists, and the contributions they make in their respective communities. We are honored to invest in their work and careers.”
Artists 360 is a three-year pilot program that will serve a total of sixty individual artists from the Northwest Arkansas area by 2021. These selected artists will receive cash awards, in addition to professional development support services. The first professional development convening will take place October 12–14.
On June 3rd I installed a solo show at Arsaga’s at the Depot in Fayetteville, AR. The show was a retrospect of work I’ve made over the past four years from undergrad, in residencies, and in grad school. The paintings were the first time showing these works in a public setting in an open way. The reception for the show had an attendance of over 45 people, on June 7th. I was so excited to see old and new friends who came to see the work. Over the past month I’ve received emails and messages that express their admiration for the works on display and their gratitude for the honesty in the paintings.
Starting in 2014 I worked with pigs and rabbits as a metaphor to touch base with being a transgender person and then transwoman. In the 2015 painting Smear (Dysphoria) I experimented with how portraiture could connect this recognition with observation of the mental and emotional qualities I felt at the time. Over the next three years I moved away from this conversation, scared of the possible retribution for revealing the contents of the work.
In 2016 I entered graduate school with a plan to only paint from life and to develop what painting was in general. It wasn’t until the Spring of 2017 that I began to use metaphor of shifting in place (physical or emotional) to my newly transitioning body. At the same time I began a series of self-portraits to document the emotional and physical transition I was going through. The series will be from February 2017-February 2019 the amount of time it will take for HRT to take its full effects on my body. December 2017-April 2018 were shown along with the transgender portrait project which includes Rain from this year.
Below is more information for the show and installation shots of the space. The paintings will be up through the end of the June at the Depot.
Hannah McBroom is a Master’s of Fine Arts Candidate at the University of Arkansas. She is the recipient of Doctoral and Graduate Fellowship from the university. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Mississippi State University in 2015 and attended Chautauqua School of Arts in 2017 and 2018.
Hannah’s representational paintings explore her experiences of identity and displacement. Her earlier work emphasized transgender embodiment using the animals to reveal something close to being human and interior spaces to show the emotional shifting in physical space Her current body of work is focused on the painted representation of the transgender community in the northwest Arkansas area. These paintings focus on how bodies can disclose identity, and at the same time, how identities do not fully belong to the individuals portrayed.
Hannah has shown in national and international shows including Manifest’s Tapped Exhibition and International Painting Annual #6, Providence Art Club Exhibition, Emerald Spring Exhibition, and the Red Clay Survey. She draws her inspiration from painters like Euan Uglow, Thomas Eakins, and Jenny Saville. Her work is in private and public collections.
I believe there are good people in the world; individuals who have a sense of duty, which lies within their community, they call family. A sense of moral obligation to help one another succeed. I have met these people who strive to make the world a better place to put others in front of their own needs.
I’m opening with this thought because there are cruel individuals who act as untouchable tricksters. With the widening of the world through globalization and the internet there are communities still committed to toxic ideals of race, politics, gender, culture, etc. There are people who die for these ideologies. The very same can be true for killing for an ideological sense of community and place (read nationality). There are nine months to The Trans Day of Remembrance (November 20)2. As I’m writing this there are four transwomen killed in this year alone1:
Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, 42, Massachusetts
Viccky Gutierrez, 33, California
Tonya Harvey, 35, New York
Celine Walker, 36, Florida
I wrote a note last week in response to a question “why are you painting these people?” My response was short “I see them as a sibling temporary existing who will be taken away and erased from history.” This post will focus on my fears of trans erasure through a system of exclusionary discriminatory practices and policies and the few who stand in the way.
The board of alderman in my home town last week decide to revoke a proposal for a LGBT pride parade in the downtown area without comment. Discrimination is not what is written but practiced regardless of legality. The silent discrimination of politicians and removal of inclusive policies is providing ground work for local government to act with cis-normative rationality (the south basis these rationales through an evangelical lens). At best, this instance of denial was based in fear of “the majority.” For the blood, tears, and deaths in the civil rights movement this board chose ignorance and exclusion to make a decision to not celebrate its citizens.
There’s a photo by Mariette Pathy Allen entitled “Brandon Teena should have been here” from the series of “Gay Pride Parade” New York 1995. It’s a power image of a gender non conforming individual wearing a shirt depicting a shirtless male’s chest holds the titled sign while locking eyes with the shirtless gay man4. I’d like to think that 23 years from that image there has been a reduction in transgender murders. I’d like to believe that the binary has been destabilized and non normalized. I’d like to think that this year there will no longer be hate within the lgbt community.
In the recent year there’s been a push in the larger community to re-categorize the tags on porn sites and chat forums from “shemale, tranny, chicks with dicks, femboi” to the more appropriate term “transgender.” This became evident when the popular Pornhub site changed their labels to transgender after several community posts requesting they do so. Porn sites like Gal Pal Films and Crash Pad Series have already paved a way for queer individuals to produce queer representation in the porn industry; opening up alternative paths of queer representation of individuals on the edges of the traditional binary to be seen. I believe the alternative queer communities like these provide the best path for a reduced stigmatization (read destabilized binary) of the transgender community.
There are good people in this world. I didn’t want to wait to the transgender day of visibility or the day of remembrance to celebrate some of the many community leaders and activists who have fought for transgender rights, inclusion, and visibility:
Danica Roem, Virginia (State Lawmaker)
Andrea Jenkins Minnesota, Minneapolis (City Council Ward 8 5)
Kristin Beck Virginia (Navy Team SEAL 6 6)
Ashlee Marie Preston, California (Activist)
Chelsea Poe, California (Activist and Film Maker)
Blossom Brown, California (Activist)
Public displays and celebrations of a gender identity that is not “normalized” can act as a way of destabilizing notions of binaries, ideologies, and class representation. I’ll write about a capitalist perspective later to explain how our bodies are not our on. In my eyes there are not enough artworks representing transgender people as the subject rather than an object of flexibility or agents of a restrictive binary.
For me, painting this community is a way to explore these ideas of centralized binarisms in the current culture. What is at stake is the humanity of the persons inscribed with a “trans” identity marker, instead of a normalized personal signifier (same problem with a “black” person as signified by ethnicity). In a sense, the body is objectified with an institutional category of otherness. Their bodies (and mine) are the last frontier for identity resting (and resisting) in all sectors of class, ethnicity, politics, and sexuality. It is the transgender community that needs to be painted.
There is one other day which happens to celebrate the individuals still living (as well those who passed on). International Transgender Day of Visibility will be held on March 31 and a week in November devoted to Transgender Awareness (Second week)3.
A few of the things that I’ve been thinking about are experiencing:
I’m trying to figure out how to create a portrait that doesn’t point at the models transgender “presence” directly but references their sense of self. What seems to be important is the necessity for a framing that gives the context of that individual. Even if a labeling were to denote these people as transgender the viewer would be looking for “tells.” Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety” from 2014 incorporates the spectator involuntary into the artwork: by recording the observers reaction Walker showed that it wasn’t the artwork that objectified the subject but the viewer who did the objectification. I want to take this tactic and incorporate it into the piece. I think its necessary to call out the viewer who inscribes the models with a validation of their identity.
I’ve starting work on finding transgender models in the area to share their stories. Around 7 individuals have messaged me to set up times for sitting. The transgender models who have come in or will be coming in range from 19-28 years of age. I would love to find some older individuals in their 40’s-70’s who have had longer to settle into who they are as a transgender person. I think the issue for these older individuals is they are in the work place and are afraid to out themselves. Or there are fewer older transgender people in the community because there hasn’t been as my developments in medicine or tech except in the last twenty years. That is my opinion and may not be the case. But I do feel that may be an aspect I want to approach in the near future.
I’ve been overwhelmed with the community support from friends, faculty, and social media. I’m very grateful for everyone’s generosity and heartfelt messages. There is confirmation through the community that what I’m working on is important. However, what I’m doing is also dangerous. It’s dangerous for me to be out and making work and it’s dangerous for the individuals who choose to allow me to represent themselves. I received an email responding to one of my call for models on craigslist: “rot in hell!” and one from yesterday: “gawddamned bunch of PETER PUFFIN SODOMITES.” I’m choosing not to engage with these individuals directly. Instead, I’ll be adding them to a weekly mailing list detailing the progress of the project.
This site is brand new. I’m very excited to open it to the public and that you’ve taken time to look. If you knew my old site you’ll know a few things have changed. I purchased this domain name after changing my name and gender on all government documents. It was a long task. This site has taken longer than expected to create and orchestrate my work and accomplishments.
I am a graduate student at the University of Arkansas pursuing a Master’s of Fine Arts. I creating a body of work that represents the transgender experience, my own as well as others. The work on the website now deals with everything leading up to my transition. You’ll find the Pig Series from 2014 and the Rabbits from 2015 (as well ongoing) which document my personal narratives of being in a gendered body. At the time I found the idea of a delegated subject a way to metaphorically show to what I was experiencing. I’ve started a series of smaller self portraits that document my transition as a Transwoman. You’ll find these images in the “Portrait” section.
What I’m working on now is how to create a body of work that represents the trans* individual as being structured within an ontological (nature of being) material system. I’ve been reading theorists like Gayle Salamon, Michelle Foucault, and Judith Butler. What was missing from these theorists were the real world individuals who experienced these philosophical situations on a daily basis. What I’ve come to find out is that it is not enough to represent the individuals but the system in which these individuals are constructed.
Stay tuned for more updates. I’ll post weekly blog posts to document the studio work and theoretical studies. Also check out my Instagram and Facebook pages for semi weekly studio work.