Students celebrate Trans Day of Remembrance through art

Photo+courtesy+of+Professor+Ed+de+St.+Aubin.
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Students celebrate Trans Day of Remembrance through art

Photo courtesy of Professor Ed de St. Aubin.

Photo courtesy of Professor Ed de St. Aubin.

Photo courtesy of Professor Ed de St. Aubin.

Photo courtesy of Professor Ed de St. Aubin.

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Students in the university’s Topics in Psychology: Queer Self course teamed up with Marquette Art Club to celebrate Transgender Day of Remembrance Nov. 20.

“Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence,” according to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation website, a nongovernmental organization that monitors media. It was founded by LGBTQ+ media members.

The upper-division course, taught by psychology professor Ed de St. Aubin, allows students freedom in communication and advocacy work. The course consists of eight students.

This semester, de St. Aubin said students went to a Veterans Affairs regional office and a drag show as part of the class’s goal of increasing awareness of the students and community. He said the class aims to bring awareness about diversity and queer identity to Marquette’s campus.

The students did a lot of brainstorming on how to best approach Transgender Day of Remembrance, eventually settling on an interactive art project, said Lindsey Mirkes, a student in the class and junior in the College of Health Sciences.

Alongside members of Marquette’s art club, the students set up a large canvas on the second floor of the Alumni Memorial Union that passing students could help paint. The design was pre-sketched with students able to paint inside the lines. The painting represented the Milwaukee flag overlaying an gay pride flag.

“Art can be so expressive,” art club president Ben Lash, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said. “With art, there is so much overlap between issues of sexuality and social justice, so the fact that there is this collaboration is really showing the culmination of this issue and how we can show it to the public.”

The outline of the painting was inspired by Keith Haring’s artwork, some of which adorns the walls of the Haggerty Museum of Art. The art style features outlines of characters that resemble people. de St. Aubin said that in 1983, Haring painted the outlines of his work and encouraged passing Marquette Jesuits and students to paint them in during his time at the Haggerty.

“People aren’t coming to see art but to be active participants and create it,” de St. Aubin said.

The students also put up informational posters by the canvas to help students learn about Transgender Day of Remembrance. The posters featured transgender history to contextualize the event.

Esme Lezama Ruiz, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the goal of the art project was to inform people in the community and to increase awareness about Marquette’s queer population.

Kelsey Hunn, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the art project was a chance “for people to understand what’s going on and what happens to the queer and LGBT communities.”

By allowing for active participation in the painting of the canvas, the students said they hoped to encourage passersby to learn more about Transgender Day of Remembrance while having fun.

“As a Jesuit university that prides itself on reaching out to the disenfranchised, we have a responsibility to respect and celebrate diversity around sex and gender issues on this campus,” de St. Aubin said.

In Marquette’s efforts to fulfill this responsibility, de St. Aubin said students at Marquette must become more educated about their fellow community members who identify as queer.

“They deserve respect and celebration,” de St. Aubin said. “We need to be mindful of that. We need to put resources towards that.”

This story was written by Shir Bloch. She can be reached at shir.bloch@marquette.edu

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