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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 16 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 20
Upcoming Exhibit: 'Gender Personal' explores Trans identity at Kirkland Arts Center
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Upcoming Exhibit: 'Gender Personal' explores Trans identity at Kirkland Arts Center

May 24 to July 12, 2014: Kirkland Arts Center Free Admission Tel. (425) 822-7161 620 Market Street, Kirkland 98033

'Whether' for Finnbar. Painting by Jacqui Beck

'It won't take long before - I think, I don't know - before even using 'Lesbian' 'Gay' 'Bisexual' will be recognized as obsolete, because it is dependent on only two genders.' - Aiden, 'Gender Personal' interview subject

What is gender? Are there only two? Is it an innate trait, or a social construct? Why should it matter? Seattle artist Jacqui Beck began to wrestle with these sorts of questions when her son Finnbar came out as Transgender three years ago. The award-winning artist explored the subject in depth using a multimedia approach showcasing her vibrantly primitive/expressionistic paintings, elegantly spare poems, photos, and taped interviews with eight Transgender individuals. The results will be on display at the Kirkland Arts Center (620 Market Street, Kirkland) from May 24 to July 12. The opening reception for the exhibit will be on Friday, May 23 at 6:00 p.m.

In addition to the ongoing exhibit, Kirkland Arts Center will host a presentation on June 7 from 7-9 pm, where Beck will talk about her project, accompanied by slides and audio recordings. Special guests will participate in a discussion of gender variance, followed by Q&A and refreshments. The vision of this format is to benefit not only the gender-variant community, but also the community at large by 'opening hearts and minds to the natural place of gender variance in human experience.'

Laura, who is one of the interview subjects, said about her journey, '. . . it probably began before verbal for me. . . although I lived outwardly as a male for 52 years, the trappings and responsibilities that came along with having a male gender never felt appropriate to me, and that a female gender identity does feel totally congruent. That somehow feeling correct in my experience of my gender is pivotal to my sense of feeling happy and satisfied in this lifetime.'

Beyond an opportunity to share her subjects' stories, Beck's paintings, poetry, and photos aim to elicit an inner dialogue within the viewer. Her son said of the installation that he would really want the viewer to 'spend some personal time with it, thinking about their gender, thinking about gender in the world, because I feel like they lay it all on me, and I'm happy to talk with them about it, but it's like they want me to give them all the answers about gender, but I only got where I did by thinking about it myself.'

For some reason, many in society still find the concept of fluidity to be threatening or alien. Jacqui Beck's 'Gender Personal' finds the beauty and natural dynamism in the transformative process. For those of us who still live in the binary world of black or white, male or female, true or false - it is an eye-opening kaleidoscope. Go see it.

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