Chest series, 2017. Sculptures. Wood, cloth, and clothing. Wall-hanging. 18"x14.5"x2.5", each.
“Chest” is a series of 10 sculptures. The ‘chests’ are wood-and-cloth forms, the size and shape of my chest - with its subtle swells - wearing my clothing.
Others often treat my chest, and the chests of many masculine-of-center transgender people, as an object to look at to determine our genders.
This staring is intrusive and uncomfortable to the recipient.
This project installs a transmasculine chest as its own powerful and beautiful subject. It takes up space, and it is seen. And, "Chest" creates a piece of my identity outside of myself. I know that somewhere, some piece of myself is correctly represented by these sculptures, their attire, their positioning on the wall.
This project also highlights the legacy of butch style that my chest inhabits. Through clothing choice, I pay homage to the many butches, studs, MOCs, doms, and transmen, and other masculine-of-center identified people who have come before me.
This project was generously funded by the Dartmouth post-graduate General Fellowship.
Chest shown at DC Trans Pride 2017
“Chest” was displayed this year at DC Trans Pride, a conference-style Transgender pride event in Washington DC that attracts about 1000 visitors annually.
Six chest sculptures were displayed at the pre-pride celebration at Whitman Walker Health, and then were featured during the Trans Pride event the following day. The Trans Pride space was packed. While the space was certainly not built for displaying art, the sculptures held up well.
When these chests are displayed as a group, in a busy space, they have a sense of independence. As you move through a space with the chests installed, you encounter more chests: you can't not look at them. This transfers the power in this situation from the viewer, to the chest. It establishes the chest as its own visual symbol - a symbol that chooses how it is looked at.
I felt both humbled and inspired to have my work up at Trans Pride, and to see it have such a warm reception from so many trans and queer people at the event.
The Future of Chest
Chest belongs in a public space where transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people, will encounter this art.
If you are connected to a public space - a healthcare facility, a school, business, non-profit, community space, or otherwise, and you are interested in purchasing or hosting all of some of the Chest sculptures, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.