Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2017-05-24
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Trans artist Flo McGarrell killed in Haiti quake
by Micki Leventhal
2010-01-27

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Flo McGarrell, an internationally recognized multidisciplinary art activist and transgender person, died Jan. 12 in the collapse of the Peace of Mind Hotel in Jacmel, Haiti, an arts community about 20 miles south of Port-Au-Prince.

McGarrell was visiting with his friend, Chicago artist Susan Frame. Frame was in Haiti to build a woodworking studio at Fanal Otantik Sant D'A Jakmel ( FOSAJ ) , an art center where McGarrell served as director.

When the earthquake struck Frame ran out of the building; McGarrell paused to retrieve his computer.

McGarrell earned his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago ( SAIC ) in 2004. "There are some students you recall clearly because they open up so many ideas around cultural meaning," said Lisa Wainwright, interim dean of faculty. "I distinctly remember [ his ] resolve, exquisite sense of craft, humanist impulse, and adventurous spirit. [ He made ] compelling work and was a great student who became an even greater member of our global arts community."

Flores McGarrell was born female Aug. 31, 1974 in Rome, Italy, to artists James and Ann McGarrell. The family moved to St. Louis, Mo., when McGarrell was eight, and then to Newbury, Vt., in 1993.

"I am extremely lucky to have an amazingly supportive family who puts up with all my crazy schemes," said McGarrell in a 2009 interview with art21. "This is where all my freedom really comes from. This is why I have the freedom to go work with people who are not so free at all…"

As a student at Maryland Institute College of Art ( MICA ) , McGarrell "was quite involved with social justice [ and ] … pushed the boundaries … in terms of gender issues, poverty issues," recalled fiber-arts professor Annet Couwenberg. "Flo wanted to build a better life for people. Inclusiveness and generosity were a given for him."

McGarrell's interest in the art and culture of Haiti took root at age 11 when his mother took him to see Maya Deren's film Divine Horsemen, a documentary on Haitian Vodou ceremonies, and The Sacred Arts of Haiti exhibition co-curated by anthropologist Marilyn Houlberg, who later became his mentor and friend at SAIC.

McGarrell's artistic legacy ranges from performance, film, digital and video to large-scale sculptural installations. In 2007 he did an arts residency at Roswell, N.M., developing experiments in sustainable living as sculpture. This work culminated in the form he described as "Agrisculpture" which has food production as its primary goal. His commitment to sustainable art met his interest in Haiti and set the course for his life's work.

"Flo's interest in the culture of Haiti had much to do with the interactive nature of the Vodou religion," said Marilyn Houlberg, who had been with him in Porta-Au-Prince Jan. 10, talking about plans for an art exhibition for Mardi Gras. "But his thing was not anthropological research. He used his art to work on economic development. The arts of Haiti are what bring tourists down there. Flo was promoting and supporting the interests of the artists of Haiti, as well as making sure they had food and essentials. He was so generous; he became part of the culture." Houlberg, who was airlifted out of Haiti and arrived in Chicago Jan. 22, also spoke eloquently about the devastation and the sincerity of rescue and relief efforts. "But," she said, "there are too many photographers and not enough food."

"The first thing Flo did when he took over the directorship of FOSAJ [ in 2008 ] was to plant a garden," said his mother, Ann McGarrell. "He'd gone there earlier as a visiting artist and took along a suitcase of Cliff bars and granola bars. All the artists and staff ate them and said, 'Monsieur Flo, these are really good but what we need are art supplies because we can always eat sand.'

"When he went back he took seeds. Stuff just shot up and they were getting lovely vegetables to go with the beans and rice and the bits of seafood." Other FOSAJ art projects, made with found materials, include a sculptural rain-barrel shower, water-purification system, bicycle-powered washing machine and parabolic oven.

"Flo was truly and genuinely inter-categorical, outrageous, fun and irreverent," said friend Kathy Smith, a Ph.D. candidate in world arts and culture at UCLA. "He lived his life between boundaries in a very authentic way."

McGarrell's gender transitioning began about six years ago with hormone therapy. "He was very pleased by his dashing little beard," said his mother.

"As a young art student at MICA, Flo—still Flora then—told me that she had just realized that all her work was about metamorphosis … as in the classical myths of a girl who becomes a tree or stream or flower. So, for a mortal to change genders while remaining in the human species did not, after all, seem such an enormous leap. ... [ Now ] he has undergone metamorphosis, shed what was mortal, emerged as a solely spirit, like the ones that Haitians recognize as inhabiting every stone and tree."

McGarrell spent the holidays in Vermont with his family, returning to Haiti shortly after the New Year. "This is the worst thing, just horrible," said his mother, "But how fortunate we were to have had this remarkable creature for 35 years."

Images of McGarrell's work and curriculum vitae are at homepage.mac.com/gowithflo; and visit the ongoing online memorial to McGarrell at wearegoingwithflo.blogspot.com . The full art21 interview with McGarrell is at blog.art21.org/2009/08/28/inside-the-artists-studio-flo-mcgarrell.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Transgender documentary Finding Kim on digital platforms and VOD 2017-05-26
Illinois House Passes Bill to Modernize State's Birth Certificate Law 2017-05-26
Activist reflects on Berwyn's LGBT transformation 2017-05-24
National roundup: Joe Biden, Texas bills, trans woman murdered 2017-05-23
Homicide of Imer Alvarado, in Fresno, California possible hate violence 2017-05-22
Sherrell Faulkner, Black transgender woman, killed in Charlotte, North Carolina 2017-05-22
Quigley makes statement on International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia 2017-05-17
Affirming ministries urge CBC to challenge homophobia, transphobia in Africa 2017-05-17
Fund to support women of color, trans people 2017-05-17
Chicago, 14 Other Cities to Host "Welcome Home, Chelsea Manning!" Events 2017-05-16
Center on Halsted hosts screening of 'Gender Revolution' 2017-05-16
Georgia Transgender Client of Lambda Legal, Rowan Feldhaus, dies after surgery 2017-05-16
Trans film makes splash at Chicago Latino Film Festival 2017-05-16
Amicus brief supporting transgender student Grimm filed by HRC, 59 major companies 2017-05-16
Chelsea Manning makes statement on release 2017-05-16
Trans organization hosts 'Unicorn Ball' 2017-05-09
National roundup: Funeral-home suit, Stephen Colbert, another trans killing 2017-05-09
Chelsea Manning, Legal Team Statements on Upcoming Release 2017-05-09
Brenda Bostick, a Black transgender woman, killed in New York City 2017-05-08
AVP mourns the death of a transgender woman in Chelsea, Manhattan 2017-05-06
Hir, a subversive comedy, opening at Steppenwolf Theatre 2017-05-04
Beyond the Binary: A Conversation About Gender May 9 2017-05-04
Chicago Gender Society marks three decades 2017-05-04
Trump administration to reconsider healthcare protections for transgender people 2017-05-03
BOOK REVIEW On Christopher Street: Transgender Stories 2017-05-02
Real Boy to premiere on Independent Lens, PBS, June 19 2017-05-02
Lambda sues Mississippi funeral home for refusing to transport, cremate gay man's body 2017-05-02
Evanston Township High School passes revised transgender policy 2017-05-02
Chay Reed, a Black transgender woman, killed in Miami, NCAVP responds 2017-04-27
RuPaul, Grimm named to TIME 100 list 2017-04-26
Jenner, Sidibe, Gay, Waters part of CHF's sessions 2017-04-26
National roundup: Idaho trans suit, skydiver case, Aaron Hernandez 2017-04-25
Entertainment news: 'Feud,' Jackie Warner, Luke Evans, Laverne Cox 2017-04-25
Report: States failing trans, gender-expansive, gender-nonconforming youth 2017-04-23
Criminal HIV-transmission charges dropped against suburban man 2017-04-21
Champions for transgender equity honored at Nat'l Trans HIV Testing Day event 2017-04-21
Film with trans teen gets restricted 'R' rating from MPAA, petition launched 2017-04-20
Trans-advocacy groups demand DCFS stop stealing trans kids 2017-04-19
BOOK REVIEW Trans*Am 2017-04-19
DANCIN' FEATS The Post-Butoh Festival: Transgression during Chicago Dance Month 2017-04-19
 



Copyright © 2017 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Submit an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.