In February and March 2013 something very unique and quite amazing happened. Thirty transgender and intersex individuals participated in a series of practical life drawing workshops. The participants ranged from novices with a keen interest in drawing to established professional artists. Unlike conventional life drawing classes, all the life models in the GI’s Anatomy workshops also identified as transgender or intersex. The workshops created an empowering space where all models and artists shared the experience of being gender variant.
This project is part of Gendered Intelligence’s mission to increase understanding of gender diversity in creative ways. Our vision is to live in a world where people are no longer constrained by narrow perceptions and expectations of gender, and where diverse gender expressions are visible and valued. We think that trans and intersex people are key to making this happen and we think that using the arts is the way to do it. Art is an amazing tool for sharing stories, making voices heard, building awareness and communities, and delivering change.
Life drawing has been an important artistic practice for centuries. Yet in today not a great deal of life drawing is being practiced. In taking trans and intersex models as its subject, the practice of life drawing becomes open to new possibilities in representing human bodies. More importantly, giving trans and intersex people the skills to create figure drawing means that they are enabled to make their own representations of gender variant bodies like theirs.
A body of work was generated from the workshops in response to these large and complex debates around sex, gender and bodies. Seeing these art pieces hanging in a gallery space and on line calls for an attention – and deservedly so. We strongly encourage anyone reading this to spend some time looking and engaging in what the art works are trying to say, to consider them and to form thoughts around them. It’s really important to further discussion so that we can all play our part in continuing these important debates around how normativities of sex and gender pervade through our society.