An Iris Stands Tall has been in my heart since 2014. To honor my daughter’s privacy, I chose to keep this project private. With my daughter’s blessing, the time is right for me to share my story.
This art endeavor began at a sensitive point in my life. The deaths of my parents brought me to reflect on myself as an individual and as a parent. It was at this time my child’s gender dysphoria was more clearly understood. A series of art which began as a reflection of my family history led me to reflect on my parenting experience beginning with the birth of my child. This experience allowed me to place my memories, fears and vulnerabilities in a visual form. To further support my visual art expression, I include my narrative. This is a collection of journal entries, excerpts from an unpublished children’s book story I completed when my child was four, my observations within my family, and research I completed about the social, medical and emotional needs as well as cultural historical aspects of the transgender community.
I believe strongly that the arts can help educate the public and bring forth truth in a creative format. An art piece is an opening to the soul for the artist as well as for those who view it. Artists can use their skills to bring together various groups who share complementary missions, thus showing community accord for the public to experience. My goal with An Iris Stands Tall is to enrich public dialogue regarding the transgender community and provide a voice to those who are judged or not often heard. Transgender people’s needs are more present in the news then they were when my child began her transition. Transgender people in this country are freer to come forward with their truth placing the estimated population over 1 million. Access to medical care through insurance plans is now available. Transgender people’s rights and justice for crimes against transgender individuals is more on the forefront. Families are more accepting of their young children who express their gender as different than their physical form. These changes however do not diminish the ongoing struggles we have in our country to allow for core human principles of respect and dignity towards transgender peoples. State governments who challenge gender marker changes on birth certificates or driver licenses, or who mandate restroom use to match birth gender, fuel blind understanding of the transgender individual. Proposed changes in our national agenda will threaten recent accomplishments made in health care legislation and basic rights for transgender citizens.
Through this artistic process, I have come to understand others share my daughter’s experience. I strive to honor my daughter’s journey and the journey of others. I hope this visual and narrative story of my inner process in understanding my daughter will provide a parent perspective and help others come to understand and accept the transgender community without judgment.
This show could not have been placed on exhibit without the support and contributions from so many. These include: Brandon Butcher, Anders Printing; Ken Romer, Frame Central; Ann Eames, editor; Randall Stuart, Cerimon House: Sean Clancy, legal advisor; and Phil Sylvester, The Drawing Studio; William Floyd (Gwyllm), Web Design; Sven Durland, Durland Digital. I appreciate and am honored to receive project grant support through Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) and Puffin Foundation.
Special thanks to my Art Critique Group: Jo Ellen Rademacher, Mila Raphael, Jennie O’Connor, Helen Snyder and Hebe Greizerstein. Their advice and witness of my ongoing process supported my vision. Thank you to the ladies of Speaker’s Club and Kim Cottrell who taught me confidence, Carole who taught me not to write in a passive voice, and Stacey who listened and shared her truth. I am blessed with numerous friends who reviewed my work and offered ongoing encouragement. And of course, thank you to my family and husband who supported me with editing skills, reassurance and love during the unfolding of this journey.
The pieces of this exhibit are rendered in oil pastel, graphite, charcoal and/or combination on paper.