Knowing yourself through art


Alex Hanks

This summer, The McNay Art Museum is featuring one of the first Transamerica/n identity
exhibits. The exhibit embodies gender identity and outward portrayal of sexuality on a broad
spectrum. Featuring the works of Andy Warhol spanning over two decades, the curation
encapsulates gender identity through a multitude of media including television, video and film
programs. The exhibit was centered on LGBTQ identity and the generational shifts that have
impacted the societal perceptions of how our communities view gender identity.

This exhibition marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, where members of the
LGBTQ community assembled spontaneous demonstrations against New York law enforcement.
The demonstration served as a catalyst for a culture of political revolution that sought to include
the LGBTQ community in the fight for equality in 1960s, an era where the African-American
community was also fighting for representation.

The first-half of the exhibit featured a myriad of work from artists such as activist Keith Haring,
Warhol and San Antonio native Michael Martinez. Each work of art was an embodiment of their
identity as either a member of the LGBTQ community or an ally.

An array of 72 bricks mounted on 12 steel pipes stood in front of a mirror. Observing the piece,
you begin to notice the bricks are curated to make certain that you do not look into the mirror
without having sight on each brick. This represents the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting,
a massacre that took the lives of 49 members of the LGBTQ community. The other 23 bricks
symbolize the amount of transgender individuals who were victims of anti-trans violence in 2018.
Parallels are drawn to the Stonewall riots because of the bricks that were thrown by activists. The
work is titled “PRIDE IS NOT ENOUGH” and was created by Martinez.

The exhibit is an innovation: it is one of the first of its kind to feature underrepresented artists
and it showcases their genuine and raw portrayals of the adversity that trans-identifying individuals
endure during the battle towards a more inclusive society. This exhibition is not only a stride for
the LGBTQ community, it is also a learning opportunity for cis individuals who have the desire to
become better allies during a time when LGBTQ individuals are being targeted for simply existing.
The exhibit gives viewers a platform to embrace, evaluate and confront their own gender identity
while gaining an understanding of the historical roots of gender activism through a collective of
different art forms.

The Exhibit is open until September 15th.