“I believe in art as a means of materializing visions of liberation, healing from trauma, and manifesting change, at both individual and collective scales,” trans artist, children’s book illustrator, and organizer Noah Grigni writes on their website.
Their exhibit “Protect Trans Dreams: A Portrait Project”—a series of large-scale acrylic paintings celebrating local trans kids and their visions for the future—is on view at the Boston Children’s Museum from April 13 to July 24, 2022, along with Grigni’s original watercolor illustrations from their 2019 children’s book “It Feels Good To Be Yourself,” written by Theresa Thorn, which introduces the concept of gender identity to young readers.
“Getting to know these kids and witnessing their joy, has been the most transformative experience. These kids have truly changed the way I see the world, and kept me going on days when I wanted to give up,” Grigni writes.
The Atlanta artist identifies as “a white, able-bodied, neurodivergent (ADHD and PTSD), middle class, queer, nonbinary, transmasculine, sexual assault survivor.” “Protect Trans Dreams” originated in 2019, when an educator from the museum reached out to Grigni, but the exhibition was delayed by covid shutdowns.
“For the past year, I have been working with a small group of seven trans kids local to New England, getting to know them and painting portraits of them,” Grigni writes. “I interviewed these kids about their dreams—their creative ideas, fantasies, hopes for the future, and visions for a better world. I painted large scale acrylic portraits illustrating the dreams they described to me, some silly and playful, others earnest and serious.
“The participating kids described creative visions that range from aspirations like making music and ending pollution, to intricate scenes of fallen angels and celestial wolves circling in the sky,” Grigni writes. “The scenes depicted in these portraits, painted in soft and vibrant jewel tones, are connected by motifs of stars and flowers, and by simple circles reminiscent of halos that frame each child’s head. The halos serve as a reminder that the dreams of trans children—just like the dreams of all children—are sacred, and deserve to be nurtured and celebrated.”
Grigni’s website states: “Grigni grew up in Georgia, and came out as a trans boy at the age of 14. They shifted into a nonbinary identity after moving to Boston at age 19, and learning from the community they found there that gender is more fluid and expansive than they had ever imagined. Grigni says the lack of trans representation in their childhood made it difficult to imagine a future for themself; this is why they struggled with self harm and suicidality as a teen. This is also why their work now focuses on celebrating trans joy, trans futures, and trans dreams. Grigni wants trans kids to know that they can do anything, that they deserve the world, and that there are strong and loving communities waiting to welcome them. With this exhibition, Grigni hopes to make space for trans kids to express themselves on their own terms, meet each other, and connect with community. This exhibition is for trans kids first and foremost, but it is also for everyone, because everyone plays a part in imagining a better future, and protecting trans kids in their right to dream.”
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