“For transgender people, there is a prevailing narrative that success entails trading one binary identity for another to pass as the opposite sex,” says Alex Orellana, third-year MFA student in the UW-Madison Art Department. “Despite not wanting to transition, I have my own health reasons to take hormones, and the effects of that process led me to create this body of work. The medicine makes me increasingly androgynous, and I want to share the experience of how that affects my social interactions.”
“Middle Child: Photographs” (April 28-June 25 at the Chazen Museum of Art, 750 University Ave., Madison, Wis.) is a series of self-portraits that finds Orellana adopting hairstyles, clothes, postures and mannerisms that read either masculine or feminine. The exhibition lends itself to timely reflections on the adequacy of gender binaries and the assumptions that are made on the basis of outer appearance.
Orellana, who was awarded the 2017 Chazen Museum Prize for Outstanding MFA Student, will give a lecture on Friday, May 5, at noon in Chazen Auditorium entitled “Gendered Physiognomies: Deconstructing Masculine and Feminine Appearances.”