|Rendering of the traveling version of the Trans Family Photo exhibit.|
The Trans Family Photo Gallery, inspired by another project of mine, American Family, is a photography exhibit designed especially for children. The pictures in the gallery offer a window into the lives of transgender woman Erica Tobias and her children and grandchildren.
My favorite part about working on this exhibit so far has been collaborating with accomplished photographer and RISD professor, Matthew Clowney. He's been such a joy to work with and I'm feeling very privileged to play a part in his creative process. Usually I come in at the later part of the exhibit development process- the artwork is made and it's my job to display it- but in this case, I've had the chance to work closely not only with Matthew but also with the family in the pictures. I feel like I've known Erica for years. From the interviews I conducted with family members, it's clear this is just who Erica is, a generous soul who welcomes everyone in with open arms, but I still feel special. We couldn't have picked a nicer family to work with.
|Matthew making pictures of the Tobias family playing at the Boston Children's Museum.|
The song playing in the background of the video is Pink Explosion, an original song written and performed by Matthew's partner, the talented Tracie Potochnik. Tracie had seen all the pictures Matthew had made of Erica and her family and listened to interviews I'd recorded with them. Inspired by Erica's love of the color pink and the springtime flowers in bloom, Tracie's refrain captures Erica's story beautifully: "The world's a pink explosion and I guess I'm bloomin' too." My favorite lines in song are in the last verse:
My heart it feels so happy and I guess it's just because
I'm finally who I'm meant to be and who I always was.
|Here I am enjoying some downtime with Erica at her home with her daughters and granddaughter.|
I'm excited about making this exhibit because I think all children (and adults for that matter) need what Laverne Cox calls "Possibility Models". We need to see people of color, women, and queer people represented in museums so children of all colors, all genders, and all sexualities can see the possibilities for themselves, not just as hypotheticals but as real, breathing options.
Children gain an understanding of gender very early on in life. Many trans* and genderqueer individuals will report knowing they were different from their cisgender peers when they were toddlers. It's inevitable that some of the children who come to see this exhibit will recognize themselves. And for those who don't recognize themselves, I hope they'll see the importance of being a supportive family member and ally.