At the Brooks: On Christopher Street: Transgender Portraits by Mark Seliger

Pride Month may have been earlier this summer, but there are so many opportunities to plug into our local LGBTQIA+ community and support the many perspectives and voices across Memphis and the world! The Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is adding to the conversation by presenting their latest exhibition (and the first transgender-focused exhibition in the Mid-South)  “On Christopher Street” Portraits of Transgender Residents by internationally renowned photographer Mark Seliger. 

Born in Amarillo, Texas Seliger is known for his many portraits of prominent figures include Former President Obama, Oprah, and Mick Jagger. He has also created covers for Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, GQ, and Elle among others! While he’s featured in national galleries across the country, this is a great opportunity for Memphis’ own art and photography aficionados to take in his work right here at home. 

“Christopher Street in New York’s Greenwich Village has long been a refuge for generations of transgender and queer people – a beacon for freedom of expression and acceptance,” says the Brooks Museum’s Curator of European & Decorative Art, Rosamund Garrett. “The LGBTQIA2+ rights movement was born there when the police raided the historic gay bar The Stonewall Inn in 1969, sparking protests on Christopher Street that would later be commemorated as Pride marches across the world.”

 “For years, Mark has witnessed the steady erosion of the rich cultural diversity of the area and its replacement with luxury boutiques,” Garrett continues. “His striking portraits not only celebrate the trans community but also represent a cautionary tale about gentrification. This message is as resonant in Memphis in 2021 as it has been in New York City and other communities around the country for years.” 

The full exhibition begins on the 18th, but the opening reception is today! To take extra pandemic precaution, it will be held in a hybrid virtual and in-person format. Seliger and four of the subjects included in the exhibition will be in attendance to discuss the exhibition and there are a handful of ways to check it out! You can head to one of the satellite venues around town or keep cozy at home by hosting a virtual watch party via the Brooks’ facebook page! If you’re a Brooks member, be sure to pick up your complimentary opening party pack! It’s got the perfect items to make your watch party amazing: including a custom tote bag, several small prints from the show, a bottle of wine, and picnic pack.

Can’t make it out or catch the opening? The Brooks Museum is continuing the celebrations over the next few months! Here’s a look at some of the programming: 

September 18, 2PM

Panel Discussion

To coincide with Memphis’ popular Cooper-Young Festival, Alex Hauptman from OUTMemphis and Kayla Gore from My Sistah’s House will take part in a panel discussion about Memphis’ LGBTQIA2+ community. This will be broadcast online from the Brooks Museums’ Hohenberg Auditorium.

October 2, all day

Community Day

The Brooks Museum will be free and open to the public this day for visitors wishing to view the exhibition. Museum staff will also provide a list of recommended movies for patrons.

November 20, time TBD

Trans Day of Remembrance 11/20

In observance of the 22nd annual Trans Day of Remembrance, the Brooks Museum will offer free admission and gallery tours of the exhibition.

December 10, 5:30 p.m.

Art History Talk: “An Art History of Queer and Trans Lives”

Dr. Bryan Keene, an assistant professor at Riverside City College, will present on this topic in the Hohenberg Auditorium, which will also be streamed live on the Brooks Museum’s Facebook page.

You may also be interested in: Andrea Letard Tell Delicious Stories in the Language of Food

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