TRANSCEND – STONEWALL COLUMBUS
Stonewall Columbus invited Rae Senarighi to bring his fine art portraitures of transgender and nonbinary community to the Owens & Kowalski Gallery for Columbus Pride 2019. The organization also wanted a lasting piece of artwork that would be a permanent mural/piece in our LGBTQ+ Community Center.
The organization worked with artist and photographer, Briden Cole to create the photo of 12 local transgender and nonbinary leaders as a base to inspiring the painted portrait mural.
Rae painted the mural live in-person during a multi-day community art event, completing it the following day.
“The more we are willing to become authentic rather than conventional, and the more unique, unconventional, or creative a being we are … the more we need to eschew conditioning for aliveness.” – Brené Brown
Transgender is not just about one experience, not linear and not simple Each transgender person’s unique incredibly diverse experiences yet we are united in a common struggle. Portraits in this series are of individuals living out in the open with courage, authenticity and commitment to integrity over safety.
Deliberately omitting natural skin tones, vibrant rainbow colors are used to take pride in our intersectional identities, uniting us in celebration All clothing is depicted in gray-scale, which helps (especially in the cases of many fashion trailblazers) to not distract from the individual being represented while carefully respecting their style. The vast blue sky is in direct response to the oppression and erasure from public space experienced by transgender people.
This work wouldn’t be possible without social media, which has allowed the artist to find and paint people, regardless of geography, who are telling their stones and living their lives openly as trans/non-binary. Each individual’s Instagram handle 1s listed on their title card so viewers can follow their story directly from the source. This portrait series aims to help unravel oppression and generate respect for the transgender community through a belief that respect comes from understanding. Sharing trans stories is our path to understanding ourselves and each other. Many trans people have incorporated dehumanizing, oppressive messages and as a result struggle to access their inner power. Black transwomen and transfemmes are at the highest risk of violence, discrimination, and houselessness so it’s essential these voices be amplified and given the respect they deserve. Transgender youth should be able to see space for themselves in the fine art world. Elevating authentic stones helps to empower communities.
BIO – Fine artist , designer and muralist , Rae Senarighi is best known for colorful abstracts, intricate typography and vivid portraiture. Rae began his studies at the University of Montana 1n 2000 and finished his BFA at the Art institute of Seattle 1n 2009, receiving a Hall of Fame Award 1n 2011. Rae’s detailed , thoughtful works are influenced by years of scientific illustration, studying the natural world in micro and macro. His art has been internationally published in Cell, Nature and Science magazines.
Rae is a transgender non-binary artist currently based in Madison, WI. His ongoing portrait series, TRANSCEND, celebrates transgender and non-binary individuals throughout the world who are living their lives openly, choosing integrity over safety. The TRANSCEND Series has been featured in Art Voices magazine, the San Francisco Weekly, the Missoulian, A Family Co, PM Magazine, Gertrude Press, Edge Media Network, the Philadelphia Metro, Control Forever and DNA India.
Netflix and GLAAD invited Rae to celebrate authentic, accurate portrayals of trans characters in media the rough a series of paintings. He’s also partnered with the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference and Washington Healthcare for All to support healthcare for the transgender community.