Gender, Identity, Appearance Today in Contemporary Art at McNay

June 16, 2019

Most contemporary public conversations about what it means to be men and women engage with the assumption that gender is mutable, not fixed. This development is due, in large part, to the work of the American philosopher Judith Butler and her theory of performativity. In her writings, she described gender as "a phenomenon that’s being produced all the time and reproduced all the time."

The upcoming exhibition at the McNay Art Museum will explore the work of North American artists who express their true selves through a broad gender spectrum. Titled Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today, it explores the construction of identity through gender and outward appearance, speaking to family, community, self-discovery, and ultimately identity.

James Gobel - Robert, 2007, Lesley Dill, Poem Dress for a Hermaphrodite - 1995
Left: James Gobel - Robert, 2007. Felt, yarn, thread, and acrylic on canvas. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Museum purchase with funds from the McNay Contemporary Collectors Forum. © 2019 James Gobel. / Right: Lesley Dill, Poem Dress for a Hermaphrodite - 1995. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy of the artist and Nohra Haime Gallery, New York. © 2019 Lesley Dill

Shifting Definitions of Gender

Breaking conventional boundaries, Transamerica/n brings together artists from underrepresented backgrounds in the United States, Mexico, and Canada who focus on exploring shifting definitions of gender identity, bravely testing the limits of self-expression. Also commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, the exhibition aims to educate by engaging "a diverse community through the discovery and enjoyment of the visual arts.”

Transformative, transcendent, and trans-historical, the show brings diverse artistic reflections on gender identity and its construction since the 1970s, spanning fine art, popular culture, and commercial culture.

Deb Kass - Double Double Yentl (My Elvis), 1993
Deb Kass - Double Double Yentl (My Elvis), 1993. Silkscreen and acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist. © 2019 Deborah Kass / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Museum as a Safe Community Center

Focusing on narratives both personal and shared, Transamerica/n brings together photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe and Catherine Opie, figurative sculptures by Greer Lankton and Frank Benson, and installations by Xavier Schipani and Jacolby Satterwhite, among others. Among highlights are the works created by emerging Latinx artists are a particular focus, reflecting San Antonio’s Hispanic majority and the museum's close proximity to the US-Mexico border.

With this latest exhibition, McNay aims to establish the venue as a safe community center for all, inspiring dialogue which raises awareness about relevant topics, presents new ways of experiencing art, and cultivates belonging within our community.

Lezley Saar - The Silent Woman, 2015, Yasumasa Morimura - Dedicated to La Duquesa de Alba:Black Alba, 2004
Left: Lezley Saar - The Silent Woman, 2015. Acrylic on fabric on panel. Courtesy of the artist and Walter Maciel Gallery, Los Angeles. Photograph by August Augustsson. © 2019 Lezley Saar. / Right: Yasumasa Morimura - Dedicated to La Duquesa de Alba/Black Alba, 2004. Chromogenic print mounted on canvas. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Museum purchase with funds from the McNay Contemporary Collectors Forum. © 2019 Yasumasa Morimura

Transamerica/n at McNay Art Museum

Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today will be on view at McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, at Tobin Exhibition Galleries and Sculpture Gallery from June 20th until September 15th, 2019.

It is organized by the McNay Art Museum and conceived by René Paul Barilleaux, Head of Curatorial Affairs; and is organized with Jackie Edwards, Assistant Curator; Bianca Alvarez, 2017-2018 Semmes Foundation Intern in Museum Studies; and Lauren Thompson, 2018-2019 Semmes Foundation Intern in Museum Studies.

Featured artists are niv Acosta, Luis Arturo Aguirre, Frank Benson, Carlos Betancourt, David Zamora Casas, Cassils, Chris Castillo, Jayne County, David Antonio Cruz, Lesley Dill, Zackary Drucker, Richard Duardo, Rhys Ernst, EVA & ADELE, Anel Flores, Julio Galán, James Gobel, Nan Goldin, Martine Gutierrez, Keith Haring, Roey Victoria Heiftez, Mari Hernandez, Sarah Hill, Peter Hujar, Graciela Iturbide, Andrés Juarez, Deborah Kas, Greer Lankton, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Zoe Leonard, JJ Levine, Kalup Linzy, Nicki Lucio, Amos Mac, Michael Martinez, Robert Mapplethorpe, Nelson Morales, Yasumasa Morimura, Jon O’Neal, Catherine Opie, Antoni Padilla, Ernesto Pujol, Chuck Ramirez, Hunter Reynolds, Lissa Rivera, Miguel Rodriguez, Athi-Patra Ruga, Lezley Saar, Jacolby Satterwhite, Xavier Schipani, Mark Seliger, Fannie Sosa, Beth van Hoesen, Jose Villalobos, Andy Warhol, Claudia Zapata and Nahum B. Zenil.

Featured image: Jacolby Satterwhite - How lovly is me being as I am, 2014. Neon. Courtesy of the artist and Morán Morán, Los Angeles. © Jacolby Satterwhite. All images courtesy of McNay Art Museum.

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