Chase Brexton and MICA to Host Transgender Multimedia Project "To Survive on this Shore"

Artists share stories and images of transgender and gender-variant older adults to challenge assumptions and educate the community.


February 17, 2016 

- The lives and challenges of transgender and gender-variant adults over the age of 50 are documented in words and images in a compelling multimedia project opening in Baltimore's Mt. Vernon neighborhood March 3, 2016.

Sponsored by Chase Brexton Health Care's LGBT Health Resource Center and the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), To Survive on this Shore presents photographs and interviews documenting more than 40 people's life experiences and issues with gender, identity, age and sexuality.

An opening reception and discussion with project co-creator Jess T. Dugan will take place Thursday, March 3, 2016 at 5 p.m. at Chase Brexton Health Care's Mt. Vernon location at 1111 N. Charles Street in Baltimore. The project will remain open at the Chase Brexton location through June 24.

"We intentionally seek out subjects whose experiences exist within the complex intersections of gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, sexuality, socioeconomic class and geographic location," said Dugan, the collaborative project's photographer. "Though everyone in our project identifies somewhere along the transgender spectrum, there is no single narrative that captures the varied paths that lead to gender discovery or transition."

In addition to the original exhibit, the project will pay homage to the first ever National Honor Our LGBT Elders Day by adding Baltimore stories to the show on May 17, 2016.

To Survive on this Shore shines a light on a group of individuals who so often are left invisible by our society," said Nate Sweeney, executive director of the LGBT Health Resource Center. "It means so much to us to help share the images and stories of transgender and gender diverse older adults with the community at large, but especially with younger people. For many LGBT identified people, seeing our elders gives us a chance to see our own futures, and that can be crucially important for someone who is struggling with accepting and loving themselves today."

In addition to the exhibit, Dugan will be a guest lecturer at MICA on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Main Building, Room M110, at 1300 W. Mt. Royal Ave.

"Dugan and Fabbre created something very compelling with To Survive on this Shore that explores the lives and challenges of a population that we do not often hear from," said Nate Larson, a member of the MICA photography faculty. "We are honored that Jess will visit MICA to share her talent and experience with our students."

About the project creators

Jess T. Dugan is an artist whose work explores issues of gender, sexuality, identity and community. For the past decade, Jess has photographed people within queer and transgender communities, focusing on the complexities of identity, gender and sexuality. Jess earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, a Master of Liberal Arts in Museum Studies from Harvard University, and a Master of Fine Arts in Photography from Columbia College Chicago. Jess regularly exhibits internationally and has work in several museum collections.

Vanessa Fabbre, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., is an assistant professor at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago where her dissertation, Gender Transitions in Later Life, explored issues of gender, identity and aging.

Prior to completing her doctoral studies, she served as the Coordinator of Older Adult Programs at Rush University Medical Center. She also worked as a psychotherapist at the Center on Halsted and co-chair of the Chicago Task Force on LGBT Aging. She is currently a co-convener of the Rainbow Research Group, a formal interest group of the Gerontological Society of America. Vanessa's research explores the intersection of LGBTQ issues and gerontology, focusing specifically on transgender and queer perspectives on aging and the life course. At the Brown School, she teaches courses in social justice and direct social work practice with older adults.

About the exibit space

The photos will be in the Chase Brexton Mt. Vernon Center Community Rooms. The Community Rooms are a space open to non-profits to use for meeting space. The space is open to the public during Chase Brexton business hourse, however, since many groups utilize this space for meetings they are often in use throughout the day and evening, so the public is encouraged to attend events such as this opening to see the entire exhibit.