Remy was a star last week.
Portland Community College’s (PCC) art department, invited her to critique a highly controversial sculpture. I attended for moral support.
Controversy surrounded the work because, apparently, it was created by a cisgender woman. And PCC’s transgender community…well actually, apparently two community members…were not happy with it.
The artist’s work was not only displayed in the college’s art gallery, it won an award.
Both accomplishments attested to the work’s technical quality. But its subject matter was significantly disturbing…to some.
The artwork was of a transgender woman. The sculpture depicted the subject in repose, her legs crossed. Between her legs a disproportionately HUGE penis (IMO) laying flaccid against her thigh.
We were told (although we couldn’t see it) that the “ball sack” was squeezed between her legs from the back.
This piece pissed off two transgender community members and perhaps a small number of non-trans community members for a couple reasons. According to those present, the artwork exploited “trans ness”, was “cultural appropriation” and left at least one transgender woman feeling “exposed” in the PCC community, causing her to have panic attacks among other intense feelings.
Another student, not a trans community member, was nonetheless upset because the artist, amidst the controversy, changed her explanation about the work. This student felt the artist didn’t stand by or acknowledge the work’s controversial nature. She thus disrespected the community through her naive understanding of the transgender community and issues surrounding it.
During the event we attended, the artist did seem visibly upset by the controversy, and also expressed extreme regret for the outcome. I’ll get to in a future post. She did allude to her own ambiguity around her gender, suggesting her artwork was an extension of that.
I intend to interview her in a subsequent post. There’s a lot to unpack around the flap that generated around this bronze work.
This post is about teeing up the subject. I don’t want to try to explain all that happened because so much did happen and there is a TON to explore about that. So in my next post, I’ll bring more to light.
But what I will say here is the exchange offered a glimpse into all kinds of opinions people have about the controversial topic that is “trans ness.”
And it’s really fascinating.