I am thrilled to announce my exhibition, Protect Trans Dreams at Boston Children’s Museum!
Protect Trans Dreams is a community-based art project celebrating trans joy, created in collaboration with local trans kids and their families. The show consists of seven life-size acrylic paintings of trans kids in their dream worlds, and 21 original watercolor paintings from my and Theresa Thorn's children's book about gender identity, It Feels Good To Be Yourself. The show is up from April 13th to July 24th, 2022, in the lavender gallery on the second floor of the Boston Children's Museum. If you're in Boston, go see it now!
About the show:
For the past year, I have been working with a small group of 7 trans kids local to New England, interviewing them about their dreams, and painting portraits illustrating the visions they described to me. The finished portraits depict each child on their own terms, in settings of their choice. Some kids asked me to paint them doing things they love, like making music or writing stories, while others asked me to paint intricate fantasies with specific details. 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.
When I deinstall the show at the end of the summer, the seven families will keep the paintings, for free. These paintings are gifts of affirmation, from me to my community. I hope these paintings will serve as joyful reminders of this experience, and this moment in each child's life, as time goes by.
This work, like all of my work, is rooted in my burning desire to provide trans kids today with the resources and representation that I lacked growing up. My work is dedicated to uplifting trans kids through art, in the hopes that they will experience more affirmation and empowerment in their childhoods than I did in mine. This project means so much to me. I hope it means something to you, too! This show is for trans kids, but it is also for anyone who identifies with it, feels moved by it, or learns something from it. I hope you enjoy it!
This project was funded almost entirely through GoFundMe. I want to express my deep gratitude and appreciation for everyone who contributed. Thank you for believing in me, funding community space for trans kids, and helping me make this dream into a reality.
Here are the paintings from the show, some photos from the opening, and my artist statement below. I'm sharing the images here, but they look better in person! Go see them at the museum!
Protect Trans Dreams: A Portrait Project by Noah Grigni
on display at Boston Children’s Museum from 4/13/22 to 7/24/22
Protect Trans Dreams is an exhibition of large-scale acrylic paintings celebrating local trans kids and their visions for the future, by trans artist, children’s book illustrator, and organizer Noah Grigni (they/them). These portraits are displayed alongside Grigni’s original watercolor illustrations from the children’s book It Feels Good To Be Yourself, written by Theresa Thorn, a book that introduces the concept of gender identity to young readers. The exhibition also features a cozy book nook, where museum visitors are invited to read, write, draw, and reflect on their own identity and dreams.
To create these portraits, Grigni connected with 7 trans kids across New England, ranging in ages from 6 to 12. Grigni interviewed them about their joy, dreams, wishes, fantasies, and hopes for the future. These paintings illustrate the ideas they described, portraying the 7 children on their own terms, in the dream worlds they imagined. Some paintings are silly and playful, while others are 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. 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 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.