The $10,000 grant has been increased with support from Mariette Pathy Allen.
Queer|Art, New York City’s home for connecting and empowering generations of LGBTQ+ artists, is pleased to announce the judges for the second annual Illuminations Grant for Black Trans Women Visual Artists: photographer and visual narrator Texas Isaiah, model, performer, and fashion illustrator Connie Fleming; and visual artist Lyle Ashton Harris. Applications open on March 31st, on International Transgender Day of Visibility, and will close on June 30th, at the end of Pride month.
Developed and named in partnership with Mariette Pathy Allen, Aaryn Lang, and Serena Jara, this annual $10,000 grant, awarded to draw attention to an existing body of work, sheds light on the under-recognized contributions of Black trans women visual artists, and provides critical support to their continuing work. The first of its kind, the Illuminations Grant for Black Trans Women Visual Artists aims to correct the exclusion of Black trans women from the larger art canon and uplift profound lineages of Black trans women artistic practices, mapping avenues for future generations of Black trans women artists.
The Illuminations Grant is made possible entirely through support provided by visual artist Mariette Pathy Allen, whose body of photographic work over the last forty years has been squarely focused on expanding cultural consciousness around gender and transformation. This year, Mariette Pathy Allen has decided to expand the grant to further recognize finalists for their artistic achievements. Moving forward, Queer|Art is pleased to announce that the grant will provide a $1,250 award to four finalists, in addition to the $10,000 awarded to a winner each year. The winning artist will receive professional development resources, including a studio visit with each participating judge, to bolster their creative development in the field.
“We had a very successful first year,” states Pathy Allen. “Many highly qualified, creative women applied from all over the USA. We encourage artists who applied to the first cycle to re-apply, especially as we’ve revised and expanded our application process to create more opportunities for success.”
The development of this grant was stewarded by consultant and writer Aaryn Lang, working in collaboration with Mariette Pathy Allen, Serena Jara, and Queer|Art. “The Illuminations Grant not only highlights the lacking representation of Black trans women in the visual arts, but also seeks to confront the systemic barriers that deny them artistic opportunities and a sustainable craft,” says Lang. “By supporting this grant, Mariette Pathy Allen challenges herself and the art industry to see Black trans women as more than mere subjects, while forging a new pathway for visual artists within this community to thrive.” Throughout her work, Lang champions the social, economic, and political well being of the transgender community, specifically the needs of Black transgender women.
Qualified artists must be self-identified Black trans women and trans femmes working in visual art and based in the United States. The Illuminations Grant is for early-career artists of any age, and is particularly interested in visual artists working in 2D and 3D art forms. Applications open March 31, 2021-June 30, 2021 and the grant will be awarded September 2021.
About the 2021 Judges
Texas Isaiah is a visual narrator based in Los Angeles, Oakland, and NYC. The intimate works he creates center the possibilities that can emerge by inviting individuals to participate in the photographic process. He is attempting to shift the power dynamics rooted in photography to display different ways of accessing support in one’s own body. Texas Isaiah’s work has been exhibited in numerous spaces such as UTA Artist Space (LA), Fotografiska (NYC), Aperture Foundation Gallery (NYC), Studio Museum in Harlem (NYC), Hammer Museum (LA), Residency (LA), Charlie James Gallery (LA), and The Kitchen (NYC). Selected interviews, articles, and commissions include The New York Times, LA Times, Adweek, Artforum, Them, The FADER, VSCO, Vice, LALA Magazine, and Cultured Magazine. He is one of the 2018 grant recipients of Art Matters and the 2019 recipient of the Getty Images: Where We Stand Creative Bursary grant.
Connie (Girl) Fleming is a performer, model, stylist, fashion illustrator, and undeniable New York City legend. As a renowned stage performer, she has graced iconic nightlife venues like the Palladium, the Tunnel, and the Pyramid; performed in various videos for George Michael, Chic, and Jody Watley; and appeared in the opening montages for Saturday Night Live and MTV News. Connie’s status as a fashion icon and cultural muse has led her to model for Thierry Mugler, Vivienne Westwood, and Andre Walker across New York and Paris. A charter member of the House of Field and a Mistress of Ceremonies at Jackie 60, Connie began her reign as one of New York’s most sought-after gate-keepers when she worked the door at Eric Conrad’s Poop at the Supper Club. Her inimitable fashion drawings have been used to illustrate costumes for Beyoncé, Anastasia, Swarovski, and “The Devil Wears Prada,” among others. Today, Connie splits her time between various artistic endeavors, and works as a runway coach, producer, and casting director for several fashion brands in New York and abroad.
Lyle Ashton Harris (born 1965, Bronx, New York) has cultivated a diverse artistic practice ranging from photography and collage to installation and performance art. His work explores intersections between the personal and the political, examining the impact of ethnicity, gender, and desire on the contemporary social and cultural dynamic. His work is included in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and has been exhibited internationally as well as in the Venice Biennale, the Bienal de São Paulo, and most recently at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, presented on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Cinéma du Réel. He was the 2014 recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize from the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship in 2016. Harris’s multimedia installation Once (Now) Again, was included in the 78th Whitney Biennial, his three-channel video work Ektachrome Archives (New York Mix), 2017, was acquired by the Whitney Museum, and an artist monograph titled Today I Shall Judge Nothing That Occurs was published by Aperture in 2017. The artist currently lives and works in New York City and is a Professor of Art and Art Education at New York University.
About Mariette Pathy Allen
Mariette Pathy Allen is a photographer of transgender, genderfluid, and intersex communities. Moving from painting, a solitary activity, to photography, Allen has been documenting the transgender community for over four decades. In 1978, on the last day of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Allen met Vicky West, a trans woman she befriended and through whom she was first invited to Fantasia Fair, a transgender conference where she would serve as official photographer. She went on to author several books that have brought visibility to transgender communities across the world including Transformations: Cross-dressers and Those Who Love Them (1989), Masked Culture: The Greenwich Village Halloween Parade (1994), The Gender Frontier (2004), TransCuba (2014), and Transcendents: Spirit Mediums in Burma and Thailand (2017).
“Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, most of the people I came to know had never met anyone like themselves. The feelings of fear and guilt that they experienced most of their lives were significantly reduced through the relief and joy of finding community. Over time, I developed relationships with the great range of gender nonconformists, and my photography, writing, and speaking skills allowed me to become an activist for transgender rights. With that activism came a deeper understanding of the dangers and public misunderstanding of gender variant people. The attitudes of medical and legal establishments, the callous media presentations, and the violence ordinary people felt justified in expressing, alarmed me.
The people who were hurt the most by attackers were, and continue to be, black transfeminine sex workers. At the same time, more and more black trans women have become successful as performers, dancers, singers, actresses, and larger than life personalities. I missed seeing black trans women who are visual artists.
Although I was already aware of the violence that trans women face on a daily basis, it was only when Serena introduced me to Aaryn that I realized I could do something about the limited options for visual artists whose talents may never have been nurtured or valued. This grant is the first to be offered specifically for Black transgender women and femmes in support of their path within visual arts. Although focused very precisely, I believe that it will have an important impact on the artists themselves, and their influence on the art world.”
Mariette Pathy Allen is represented by ClampArt in New York City which recently hosted “Transformations,” a solo exhibition of her early transgender work, from February 25th to April 10th, 2021.
About Aaryn Lang
Aaryn Lang (she/her/hers) is a Black, Ohio-born consultant, writer, public speaker, and media personality. Miss Lang’s primary focus is championing the social, economic, and political well being of the Transgender community, specifically the needs of Black Transgender women.
About Serena Jara
Serena Jara is a multidisciplinary artist working in photography, video, drawing, and sound. In her photos, she reflects on visibility as a tool used to both empower and manipulate trans people, creating staged portraits to complicate tropes of assimilationist representation. Referencing cinematic imagery and celluloid glamour, she explores the limits of a visual culture dominated by cisgender interpretations of trans experiences. Her work has been featured in institutions such as MOMA PS1, Fundación del Centro Cultural del México Contemporáneo, Dixon Place Theatre, and Cuchifritos Gallery, as well as online publications such as DIS, V Magazine, Refinery 29, and Mic. For the past two and half years, Jara has been working with Mariette Pathy Allen, archiving and developing new pathways for access to her work, advising closely on the management of her legacy, and supporting the development of the Illuminations Grant for Black Trans Women Visual Artists.
Queer|Art was born out of the recognition of a generation of artists and audiences lost to the ongoing AIDS crisis, and in a profound understanding that one of the many repercussions of that loss has been a lack of mentors and role models for a new generation of LGBTQ+ artists. Founded in 2009 by filmmaker Ira Sachs, Queer|Art serves as a ballast against this loss and seeks to highlight and address a continuing fundamental lack of both economic and institutional support for LGBTQ+ artists. Our mission is to connect and empower generations of LGBTQ+ artists, while providing the tools, resources, and guidance artists need to achieve success and visibility for their work at the highest levels of their field.
The current programs of Queer|Art include: the year-long Queer|Art|Mentorship program; the long-running Queer|Art|Film series, held monthly at the IFC Center in lower Manhattan; and Queer|Art|Awards, an initiative of grants, prizes, and awards that provides various kinds of direct support—monetary and otherwise—to LGBTQ+ artists.
A list of the intergenerational community of artists supported and brought together by Queer|Art includes: Silas Howard, Jennie Livingston, Matt Wolf, Hilton Als, Sarah Schulman, Pamela Sneed, Justin Vivian Bond, Jibz Cameron, Trajal Harrell, John Kelly, Geoffrey Chadsey, Everett Quinton, Geo Wyeth, Angela Dufresne, Nicole Eisenman, Avram Finkelstein, Chitra Ganesh, Pati Hertling, Jonathan Katz, Tourmaline & Sasha Wortzel, Jess Barbagallo, Morgan Bassichis, Monstah Black, Yve Laris Cohen, Troy Michie, Tommy Pico, Justin Sayre, Colin Self, Jacolby Satterwhite, Rick Herron, and Hugh Ryan, among many others.