“I am an artist and I am a mother of a transgender child. While deeply committed to both endeavors, I have largely kept the two paths separate. I am openly active and supportive in the Trans community, but my particular and complex journey with my child is a part of my private life, and not my artistic one.
A year ago, the New York Times reported on a memo circulating within the federal government that aimed to strip transgender people from some of their civil rights. It was then that I felt even after years of advocating for my child, the activism I was participating in wasn’t enough. I had to use my art to make a stand.
larger than life is an exhibition of portraits. At sixty-five inches tall and forty-five inches wide, the canvases are almost one and a half times larger than life. The backgrounds are single colored planes of pinks or blues or yellows and the overall palette is vibrant. The subject of each portrait gazes directly at the viewer and they range in age from thirteen to sixty-three. They identify as female, male, gender non-conforming and gender fluid. Their backgrounds are Asian, African American, Latinex and white. There are nine paintings, each oil on wood panel.
The process of each painting begins with a conversation with the subject. I record that conversation, a kind of interview, to capture the subjects’s story in their own words and in their own voice. Afterwards, I photograph them in a place where they feel comfortable, in an outfit they’ve picked out. I paint from the photographs as well as drawing from our conversation to give me a vision of the whole person. While it was important to achieve a likeness, I took liberties with the boldness of the palate and in some cases altering the pose.
I painted these portraits out of a desire to support and to share my love for the Trans people in my life and in my community. I also wanted the subjects of these portraits to be more than subjects: I wanted to honor how they see themselves, and to honor how they would like others to see them. As the paintings developed, it became clear to me that audio from each subject’s interview ought to be included in the presentation. Each portrait is paired with an audio clip of the subject discussing aspects of their journey and expressing what it means to them to be trans.
My hope is that these paintings demonstrate the beauty and courage of trans people, that they won’t be silenced, and that they cannot be erased. I want to celebrate them. I want them painted permanently into our society, larger than life and on their own terms.” — Nina Katz
Nina Katz: larger than life
Exhibition Dates: February 22 – March 28, 2020
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 7, 2020 from 5pm – 7pm
Jack Fischer Gallery
Minnesota Street Project
1275 Minnesota Street
San Francisco, CA 94107