David Weinberg Photography and the Center on Halsted ( the Center ) have teamed to showcase the work of four acclaimed trans artists with "transfluent," a three month-long exhibit aimed at highlighting and supporting trans representation and advocacy with its "Pearly Foam" and "Trisha Shattuck: Machinations of a Monk" exhibits.
"Pearly Foam," according to David Weinberg Photography's site and the show's press release, "explores themes of identity, memory and fantasy while gazing into shifting waters from the shoreline of desire. The exhibition features photographs, sculpture and installation work that investigates gender politics and queer culture from the spectrum of political positions by artists Sofia Moreno, Wolfie E. Rawk and Oli Rodriguez."
"Trisha Shattuck: Machinations of a Monk" is, according to the show's press release, "a selection of cerebral oil paintings from the subject of the award-winning documentary film, 'From This Day Forward' made in dialogue with the canvas from Shattuck's quiet room."
"Pearly Foam" runs through Jan. 9 at David Weinberg Photography, 300 W. Superior St., and "Trisha Shattuck: Machinations of a Monk" runs through Jan. 5 at the Center.
Weinberg, owner of David Weinberg Photography, explained that both exhibits developed due to the relationships he cultivated with a number of people at the Center's annual benefit, "Human First." He started a dialogue with them and from those conversations came this collaboration. Weinberg noted that during those conversations people at the Center suggested that they focus on transgender issues and from that emerged "Pearly Foam" and "Trisha Shattuck: Machinations of a Monk".
Meg Noe, curator and director of education for David Weinberg Photography, explained that they came up with the name "transfluent" to unify both exhibits after a number of back and forth emails with people at the Center.
In deciding which artists to feature at both locations, Noe noted that she was already aware of the film featuring Shattuck and wanted her work in the exhibit.
"One of the members of the Center was at the pitch for Shattuck's work being featured and supported the film, so it seemed like the perfect fit to work with Trisha and showcase her paintings," said Noe. "Trisha is from Northern Michigan and has been painting for years and years. Her paintings are very allegorical and a lot of them are really about putting gestures into the painting until a story is revealed to her. The subtitle was Trisha's idea. Trisha works from a bedroom in her house and the signature in her email says 'From the Quiet Room'. She has a real spiritual connection with the paintings she's created."
As for Moreno, Rawk and Rodriguez, Noe explained that she's loved their artwork for many years.
"After going to a lot of studio visits I'd seen a beautiful thread between their work," said Noe. "It so happened that in my mind I could think about their work in a similar setting and how it was talking about place. A place filled with fantasy and distorted memory. All of their work speaks to their own experiences it just so happens that all of them are speaking in a dream state.
"'Pearly Foam' came about because of that connection between all of their work. The title is taken from Hans Christian Anderson's 'The Little Mermaid' where the prince is gazing out at the pearly foam and find's the little mermaid crying on the rocks. It's really trying to speak to these elements within their work that bring them together instead of thinking about the conceptual political composition of their work."
In talking with the artists, they expressed how happy they are to have their work featured in this exhibit.
"I'm elated to be included in the 'transfluent' exhibit and I thank the good people at the Chicago Media Project for suggesting my inclusion," said Shattuck. "A chance to have my work shown alongside my artistic contemporaries is exhilarating."
"It was great to see the turnout for the opening and I appreciate the effort of the other people involved in 'transfluent'," said Moreno. "I receive satisfaction knowing that I have the ability to step up and show different notions of self-description and self-awareness. Using my creativity, experience and resources hoping I can encourage others alike in reimagining a safe and new space. A place where we can be ourselves, to dream and make beautiful objects out of nothing. I'm honored to be a part of this exhibit."
"What I love about 'Pearly Foam' is how the show is framed curatorially," said Rawk. "Meg did a wonderful job of tying the various threads of our disparate practices together to showcase trans artists and yet not have it be a 'trans show.' Yes, the three of us are all trans artists, and I believe that asserting our voices in a culture that actively seeks to destroy us is vital and a means of psychical survival. Yet it can feel tokenizing to have my work reduced to one part of my identity, being asked to participate in shows to tick off that diversity box, ignoring or erasing the other components of the work. I feel like 'Pearly Foam' is not that and I'm thrilled with Meg's vision, the ideas of tourism, desire, time/space, mutation, loss and revenge that are tied into each of our works."
"I appreciate the opportunity for a larger dialogue that this exhibit provides me within the spectrum of art, non-profit and queer spaces," said Rodriguez. "In 'The Papi Project', I'm documenting my upbringing in a gay disco of queers, kids and cats. This particular show includes cruising sites that I inhabited as a child and currently as a tourist through these loaded landscapes."
A number of events will be taking place at both locations including a free screening of "From This Day Forward," Shattuck's daughter Sharon's film documenting their family's experience as Shattuck transitioned, at the Center Nov. 19. On Nov. 20, the Center will be holding an event in the third floor gallery space to honor Transgender Day of Remembrance and on Nov. 21, the Center will hold a day-long "trans flu·ent·ial Film Festival." David Weinberg Photography will be hosting a Trans Rights Panel with ACLU Project Director John Knight, Dec. 3 at Weinberg's gallery.
See d-weinberg.com/pearly-foam-programming to RSVP for these events and other upcoming events.
Previous events included an opening reception for Shattuck's exhibit Oct. 9 at the Center, an artist panel discussion for "Pearly Foam" Oct. 21 at the Center and an opening reception for "Pearly Foam" Oct. 23 at David Weinberg Photography.
"With transgender visibility at the nexus of conversations both nationally and locally, the timing of Center on Halsted's partnership with David Weinberg Photography on trans representation could not be more apt," said Modesto 'Tico' Valle, the Center's CEO. "Leaders in the trans community have welcomed allies and the public into understanding the disparities and inequities facing this population. Center on Halsted's unique position as a community center that provides both social services and cultural programming allows us to bridge this gap in a unique way and further the conversation, by providing individuals with the opportunity to engage with various aspect of trans representation at a personal level. Art, a form of expression that is uniquely tied to the individual, is thus a natural entry point."
"This show feels different for me because although it has political undertones it's less about examining a social issues and the political questions that come from that and more about giving trans artists a voice," said Noe. "In some ways it's trying not to feed into what the media has produced around trans bodies and sensationalizing them and recognizing that they're artists who also happen to be trans."
The motivation behind what we do here and this show in particular is primarily about trying to develop a dialogue among people," said Weinberg. "We want people to talk about the issues and that's why we have programs that accompany every one of our exhibits. We always have our radar out there looking for interesting and important issues we feel we should be highlighting and is what drives us day in and day out. Meg does a great job of identifying terrific art. We put an enormous emphasis on the quality of art that we show so there's this balance between that and the issues that is showcased through the art that we show. That's what transfluent is all about."
For more information, visit d-weinberg.com/ and www.facebook.com/events/1471906659804893/ .