CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — An art exhibit, film screening and conversation on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus will examine the experiences of transgender older adults.
“To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults” documents the life stories of transgender older adults. The Center for Advanced Study at the U. of I. and McKinley Foundation are hosting events related to the project. Scheduled to coincide with Pride Month events in Champaign-Urbana, all of the events are free and open to the public.
Photographer Jess T. Dugan and social worker Vanessa Fabbre spent five years traveling the country, photographing and interviewing this largely underrepresented group. They published a hardcover book of the photographs and interviews, and they also produced a limited-edition portfolio that travels to university art museums and other teaching collections.
Photographer Jess T. Dugan and social worker Vanessa Fabbre spent five years photographing and interviewing transgender older adults around the country for “To Survive on This Shore.”
Courtesy Jess T. Dugan and Vanessa Fabbre
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A selection of photographs and interviews from the project is on view through Oct. 31 at the Artists’ Alley at McKinley Church and Foundation, 809 S. Fifth St., Champaign. The exhibit is open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Paula Hancock, the executive director of McKinley Foundation, said the goal for Artists’ Alley is to introduce the students in McKinley Foundation’s residence hall to art from diverse and inclusive perspectives and to present exhibits that reflect the mission and beliefs of the church and foundation.
McKinley Church and Foundation was one of the first Presbyterian churches in the country to receive a designation as welcoming to the LGBTQ community, Hancock said.
The Center for Advanced Study partnered with McKinley Foundation to bring Dugan and Fabbre to campus.
Their conversation will be Sept. 20 at 4 p.m. in the Knight Auditorium at Spurlock Museum, 600 S. Gregory Drive, Urbana. They’ll be joined by Gloria Allen, a transgender icon from Chicago and one of the subjects of “To Survive on This Shore.” Mary Statzer, the curator of prints and photographs at the University of New Mexico Art Museum, will moderate the conversation.
The artists will talk about the interview process, the making of the exhibit and the issues faced by older transgender adults. Allen will speak about her experience with the project. The presentation will be in-person and also live on Zoom.
McKinley Foundation will host a reception and book signing Sept. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon in the Artists’ Alley with Dugan, Fabbre, Allen and Statzer. During her visit, Allen will speak to students in a seminar class on transgender studies.
McKinley Foundation also is sponsoring a film screening of “Mama Gloria,” a PBS documentary about Allen. It will be shown Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at McKinley Foundation, followed by a discussion led by Sawyer Kemp, a postdoctoral research fellow in transgender studies.