Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today
Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today celebrates the authentic, beautiful, and vulnerable voices of contemporary, North American artists who express their true selves through a broad gender spectrum. Some of the artists identify as LGBTQ+, and some do not. The art in Transamerica/n speaks to family, community, self-discovery, and ultimately identity. Artists’ experiences are highlighted as part of the McNay’s dual commitment to artistic excellence and community impact.
Transamerica/n is the country’s first broad survey of contemporary artwork from across North America to explore the construction of identity through gender and outward appearance. Transformative, transcendent, and trans-historical, Transamerica/n breaks down conventional boundaries and celebrates a spectrum of gender identity through individual presentation and societal perception. Transamerica/n showcases artists from underrepresented backgrounds in the United States, Mexico, and Canada who are deeply committed to exploring shifting definitions of gender identity and bravely testing the limits of self-expression. The exhibition also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which served as a catalyst for the modern LGBTQ+ movement in the U.S. and around the world.
This exhibition is a teaching moment, reflecting a part of our global community previously underrepresented at the McNay. Everyone should at some point be able to see themselves, their cultures, their identities, and their passions reflected in our collections and exhibitions. Educating everyone is at the core of our mission: “to engage a diverse community through the discovery and enjoyment of the visual arts.”
Presented in tandem with Andy Warhol: Portraits, Transamerica/n focuses on generational shifts from the 1970s to today, with content spanning fine art, popular culture, and commercial culture. The exhibition includes a diverse range of artists—many from the San Antonio community—working across mediums. Included in the exhibition are photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe and Catherine Opie, figurative sculptures by Greer Lankton and Frank Benson, and installations by Xavier Schipani and Jacolby Satterwhite. Eschewing chronology in favor of thematic explorations, Transamerica/n focuses on narratives both personal and shared.
Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today 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. Commissioned works by emerging Latinx artists are a particular focus, reflecting San Antonio’s Hispanic majority and our close proximity to the US-Mexico border. Through the diverse range of artworks and programs presented, Transamerica/n seeks to establish the Museum as a safe community center where all visitors can be their authentic selves, be inspired to dream and grow, make sense of the world, and find their special place in it. Transamerica/n is an open dialogue that raises awareness about relevant topics, presents new ways of experiencing art, and cultivates belonging within our community. Our vision is to help people experience transformation through art. This exhibition helps us do that better.
The McNay would like to give special thanks to the exhibition’s Lead Sponsor, the Ford Foundation, for a grant of $200,000. Across eight decades, the Foundation’s mission has been to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. We are grateful for the support of an organization that invests in innovative ideas, visionary individuals, and frontline institutions advancing human dignity around the world.
The McNay is also proud to announce a major $175,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity Appearance Today. Each year, the Henry Luce Foundation’s American Art Program supports exhibitions that are anticipated to make significant contributions to the public and scholarly understanding and experience of the United States. Chosen from a highly competitive pool of applicants, the McNay is one of 14 museums across the country to receive funding from this year’s competition. Lead funding is most generously provided by the Ford Foundation. Additional support is provided by Metropolitan Methodist Hospital and the Host Committee, chaired by Dr. Carlos E. Alvarez-Meraz.