Transgender Exhibit to Open

William Way's new art show examines transgender and gender non-conforming work by three well-known artists

A detail from 100 Butches (courtesy of Elisha Lim)

Gender can be complicated and deeply personal. And for the next two months, an exhibition will showcase works about the transgender and gender non-conforming community starting Nov. 11 (6-8 p.m.) during an opening reception at the William Way. The special exhibition is curated by Eli J. VandenBerg and supported, in part, by the Leeway Foundation. The featured works come from three internationally known artists – Molly Landreth, Elisha Lim and Aiden Simon.

“All of these projects have a uniting thread beyond featuring images of trans and gender queer people – the images reflect an unflinching honesty and unity through our diversity,” says VandenBerg. “These projects are about taking control of our own stories. The memories that connect us and the stories we tell keep time moving and turn our lives and identities into something bigger than ourselves.”

Personal narrative plays a significant role in each of the artists’ works in the exhibition. Each a visual storyteller, the exhibition helps showcase the diversity of today’s queer landscape through illustration and photography.

While Lim’s work is driven by comics and illustration, on a deeper level, the individual pieces – including one with Pee Wee Herman and another, a series of 100 Butches – represent visual memories. They present queer life as a series of moments, explains VanderBerg, moments that shape the history of the community using, at times, well-known pop culture cues and highly personal observations.

Courtesy of Aiden Simon

Simon’s photography looks to the past at The Twin Lakes Swim and Tennis Club where he spent his childhood. Today, the club is abandoned and slowly being reclaimed by the landscape and Simon’s work captures the progression of time, as well as the awkwardness, reflection, exuberance and experimentation of youth.

In a statement about the Twin Lake series, Simon says, “I return to it to investigate my childhood, which lies hidden somewhere in the overgrowth. …Many of these memories are buried within me, or seem now to be dreamed up.”

And the third series – Embodiment: A Portrait of Queer Life in America – began in 2004 out of Landreth’s desire to see images of her own community. The project connects queer individuals highlighting a national experience in its many diverse, overlapping and, at times, conflicting parts. Rather than categorizing individuals in a typical way (i.e., butch, femme, trans, etc.) this project uses multiple identities to create a much larger visual force by the Seattle-based artist. The result, like the exhibition as a whole, is a projection of strength, vulnerability, power, hope and pride.

Molly Landreth, Elisha Lim and Aiden Simon, Nov. 11 (6 p.m. opening reception), Nov. 16 (6:30 p.m., a conversation with VandenBerg and Landreth), William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St., 215-732-2220.