I’m a buzz light years away from language & a land name, Golden


Queer|Art, New York City’s home for the creative and professional development of LGBTQ+ artists, is pleased to announce the winner of the fourth annual Illuminations Grant for Black Trans Women Visual Artists, Golden. The Brooklyn-based visual artist will receive a $10,000 cash grant, professional development support, and individual studio visits with members of the judges panel to support their practice. 

2023 Illuminations Grant Judge, Jonathan Lyndon Chase writes: “Golden’s visual photography evokes power, vulnerability, beauty, and glowing prowess. There are meditations on self reflection, communal embrace. The documentation on lived experiences in the Queer community and personal self expression are reminiscent of a home feeling.”

2023 Illuminations Grant Judge, Lauren Haynes continues: “Golden’s photographs stood out among this year’s very strong group of visual artists. Each image left me wanting to see more and to engage more deeply with their practice—I am excited to see how Golden’s work continues to evolve.”

Golden’s art practice over the years has been centered around using photography, performance art, and poetry to document, question, and expand the archive of Black trans life in the United States. It is at the intersections of self documentation, family, queer imagination, and Black love where they believe their work is most boundless and referential. Born in the historically Black ecosystem of Hampton, VA, with roots in Pocomoke City, MD, Golden was raised by unrecognized field and factory workers, poets and photographers, local archivists and historians. This influence of the Black American South is felt most clearly in their work’s ability to speak from and towards collective freedom. They write, “the ethos of my art practice is to utilize living archives of self documented photographs of Black trans life within, outside, and surrounding the home, paired with the poetics of Black speech to build, document, and articulate the breath between Black trans living and survival in the United States.”

As the fourth annual winner of the Illuminations Grant for Black Trans Women Visual Artists, Golden was selected from a pool of 51 applicants. The judges, who were chosen by Queer|Art to review applications for the national grant include visual artists, performers, and curators from around the country: Jonathan Lyndon Chase, Lauren Haynes, and Jade Kuriki Olivo (Puppies Puppies). Developed and named in partnership with Mariette Pathy Allen, Aaryn Lang, and Serena Jara, this annual grant draws attention to an existing body of work, sheds light on the under-recognized contributions of Black trans women visual artists, and provides critical support to their continuing work. 

About Golden, Winner

Golden (they/them) is a Black gender-nonconforming trans femme photographer, poet, educator, & community organizer raised in Hampton, VA (Kikotan land), currently residing in Brooklyn, NY (Lenapehoking land). They are the author of A Dead Name That Learned How to Live (2022), a Lambda Literary Award Finalist (2023), and the photographic series On Learning How to Live, an Arnold Newman Prize Finalist (2021). Golden is the recipient of an Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Luminaries Fellowship (2019), a Best of the Net Award (2020), a City of Boston Artist-in-Residence (2020-2021), a Mass Cultural Council Fellowship in Photography (2021), a Women Photograph Project Grant (2021), & a Tufts University Art Galleries Creative Futures Fund Grant (2022). They hold a BFA in Photography & Imaging from New York University.

On receiving the 2023 Illuminations Grant, Golden writes: “This award will allow me to complete the installation for my debut solo exhibition, I’m Never Alone, and solidify a live/work space for me close to community in Boston, Massachusetts. At this moment of precipice, rigor, & transformation in my career, I’m glad to be able to center stability, more time for family, and reflection with these funds. Since the start of the pandemic, I feel like I’ve been running towards this break so I really want to honor what more internal time for experimentation & collaborative work can feed back into my self-portraiture practice.”

In addition to Golden, four other visual artists were acknowledged as finalists for this year—Fatima Jamal, Steven Anthony Johnson II, Catching On Thieves, and Jhona Xaviera.

About Fatima Jamal, Finalist

Born in the American South, Fatima Jamal (b. 1990) is the writer and director of the film No Fats, No Femmes. Her practice considers those discarded and disappeared from Black collective imaginings and networks of care. Named by Teen Vogue as one of the “coolest queers on the internet,” Jamal is also known as ‘fatfemme’, a moniker that encapsulates life at the intersection of fat and femme identity — “spaces that people are afraid to occupy,” she names. A graduate of Morehouse College and The New School, Jamal produces work straining —perhaps, yearning— towards a world capacious enough to hold a fat, Black trans woman. Her work has been featured in ARTFORUMSEEN JournalLA TimesThe New York Times, TriBeca, & Tate Modern.

About Steven Anthony Johnson II, Finalist

Steven Anthony Johnson II (b. 1993, Baltimore, Maryland) is a draftsperson, interpretive archivist, writer and curator living in Brooklyn, NY. They hold an MFA from the New York Academy of Art and a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Utilizing the language of drawing, animation, and photo-documentary their work attempts to make peace between the religious, intellectual, and humanistic ideals in relation to Blackness and “Otherness” through multidisciplinary storytelling. Johnson’s work has recently been shown at The Armoury; New York, The International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP); New York, VAE Raleigh; North Carolina, Cooper Gallery; United Kingdom and others. Johnson has been in-residence at ISCP, Field Projects, Velvet Park; New York, Inbreak; Los Angeles, and The Royal Drawing School; London.

About Catching On Thieves, Finalist

Catching On Thieves is a multimedia artist who creates to both understand what is to be & to stay alive. She writes of spies & prophets, Y2K conspiracies & the relationship between abstraction, perception & interoception, using her body as a question mark meant to disturb our assumptions about what we say we know about what we are. Titles of her recent works include: “Catching on The Nose,” “Memory, Vein,” “Mulata She-male Gets it From All Sides,” & “Not One & Simple, or, What Would James Baldwin Do?” Resident at the Queer Materials Lab, Translab, The Performance Intensive, PAPA, PAAFF, & Session 9 of the Raw Materials Academie hosted at the ICA. She is one of the QAM fellows being mentored by filmmaker Lilly Wachowski & is currently an MFA student at the University of Pennsylvania.

About Jhona Xaviera, Finalist

Jhona Xaviera Fabian (they/she) is the American first-born of their Dominican family tree. Born and raised in New Jersey and reborn in Boston MA, Xaviera’s research-based artistic practice is a testament to her continued healing and survival as she seeks to revive and revere her ancestors in this modern dystopia.They received their BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University where they researched the history of queer and trans experience in African Diasporic religion and cultural identity. Her multimedia approach to world-building is a labor of love. In creating her own origin myth through light, sound, music, poetry, and visual art, she plants the seeds for a cultural space to call her own. Xaviera craves a space where Black, Queer, Indigenous, and Disabled people thrive.

About Mariette Pathy Allen

Mariette Pathy Allen is a photographer of transgender, genderfluid, and intersex communities. Moving from painting, a solitary activity, to photography, Allen has been documenting the transgender community for over four decades. In 1978, on the last day of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Allen met Vicky West, a trans woman she befriended and through whom she was first invited to Fantasia Fair, a transgender conference where she would serve as official photographer. She went on to author several books that have brought visibility to transgender communities across the world including Transformations: Cross-dressers and Those Who Love Them (1989), Masked Culture: The Greenwich Village Halloween Parade (1994), The Gender Frontier (2004), TransCuba (2014), and Transcendents: Spirit Mediums in Burma and Thailand (2017). Mariette’s photographs have been exhibited internationally and are in private and public collections. She is represented by Clamp gallery in New York City. Learn more about Mariette Pathy Allen and the creation of the Illuminations Grant here.

About Aaryn Lang

Aaryn Lang is a Black, Ohio-born consultant, writer, public speaker, and media personality. Miss Lang’s primary focus is in championing the social, economic, and political well being of the transgender community, specifically the needs of Black transgender women. 

About Serena Jara

Serena Jara is an artist making work about the effects of family dysfunction and the process of rebuilding herself as an adult. Through photography and painting, Jara focuses on how apathy and love can become intertwined in the long-term. After receiving love during childhood in the form of mixed messages, she looks at herself and her family in relation to this narrative, exploring home as a contradiction of comfort and emptiness that follows her regardless of physical location. She depicts similar tensions between love and neglect in her paintings, using the medium to process childhood memories and find new ways to care for and accept herself. The artist shows her struggle with seeking love as external validation, and the realization that she has to foster this from within to move on from the past.

About the 2023 Judges

Jonathan Lyndon Chase is an interdisciplinary artist who works in painting, video, sound and sculpture to depict queer black love and community amidst the backdrop of urban and domestic spaces. Chase’s figures hang in various forms of articulation – intertwined with domestic markers of a kitchen or a bedroom, they are then tethered by pop and street signage to blend emotional and physical, internal and external  states of being. Rendered through layers of bright, visceral paint, make-up, foam and glitter, these compositions challenge and subvert canonical misrepresentation and exclusion of the black body. Recent exhibitions include WHAT DO YOU SEE, YOU PEOPLE, GAZING AT ME at Sadie Coles HQ, London. Chase’s work has been previously featured in Art Basel,  Switzerland; Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pond Society (solo), Shanghai; Company Gallery, New York; LSU Museum of Art  (solo), Baton Rouge; the Rubell Foundation, Miami; Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke;  California African American Museum, Los Angeles; Woodmere Art Museum, Philadelphia; The Bunker, Collection of Beth Rudin De-Woody, Palm Beach and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Art, Philadelphia. Their work is included in numerous private  and public collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, Walker Art Center, ICA Miami, High Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Bronx Museum, Rubell Family Collection, Buxton Contemporary Art Museum, The Wedge Collection, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and Woodmere Museum of Art. Chase was  born in 1989 in Philadelphia, PA where they currently live and work.

Lauren Haynes is Director of Curatorial Affairs and Programs at the Queens Museum. Previously she was the Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Before her time at the Nasher, Haynes was Director of Artist Initiatives and Curator, Contemporary Art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Momentary in Bentonville, Arkansas. Prior to Crystal Bridges, Haynes spent nearly a decade at the Studio Museum in Harlem. As a specialist in contemporary art by artists of African descent, Haynes curated dozens of exhibitions at the Studio Museum. Haynes’s recent curatorial projects include Lyle Ashton Harris: Our first and last love (co-curator, 2023); Beyond the Surface: Mixed Media and Textile Works from the Collection (2022); Kenny Rivero: The Floor is Crooked (2021); Crystal Bridges at 10 (2021); Sarah Cain: In Nature (2021); State of the Art 2020 (co-curator, 2020); and The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art (co-curator, 2018). Haynes was a 2018 Center for Curatorial Leadership fellow and a recipient of a 2020 ArtTable New Leadership Award. Haynes is on the Board of Trustees for the AAMC & AAMC Foundation and serves as Vice President of Fundraising.

Puppies Puppies (Jade Guanaro Kuriki-Olivo) lives and works in New York. Until 2018, the conceptual works of Puppies Puppies (Jade Kuriki-Olivo) were created by an anonymous artist-subject. The name Puppies Puppies revealed neither gender or origin, nor whether a group or just a single individual was behind the pseudonym. Stepping away from this veiled identity became part of a series of works beginning in 2018 that were overlaid with the actual transitioning of the artist to Jade Kuriki Olivo. Her activist practice and commitment to the rights of BIPOC transgender, gender non conforming, two spirit + minorities has become steadily more important as she continues her transition as a multiracial woman of trans experience. She is the recent recipient of Toby’s Award, given every two years by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland, Ohio. Recent exhibitions include Transcendence, Performance Space, New York (2022); TRANNY, Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin, Germany (2022); I’m Jade. I’m a trans woman trans womxn trans femme two spirit human being. Life feels long even though it hasn’t been all that long. A brain tumor surgically removed, getting divorced, losing my dad, brain tumor resurgence scare, starting hormone replacement therapy, experiencing sexual assault and rape multiple times and coming out as a woman. This exhibition is a roller coaster of the emotions feelings but also thoughts connections that happened over this span of time… only a little more than a decade. This exhibition covers the span of Puppies Puppies to Jade. It’s hard to get up each morning. My heart aches but I’m happy to be a woman. I’ll try my best to enjoy life even though society makes it difficult. From dust to dust I am but a speck on this planet and I wonder how to use this short life of mine. Trying not to let my trauma take over but still be kind to yourself Jade. This is the end of a decade • a new way of working coming soon. Sincerely, Jade Kuriki Olivo, Kunsthaus Glarus, Switzerland (2021); BODY FLUID: BLOOD, Remai Modern, Saskatoon, Canada (2019); PLAGUE, Halle für Kunst, Lüneberg, Germany (2019); Anxiety, Depression & Triggers, Balice Hertling, Paris, France (2019); Executive Order 9066 (Soul Consoling Tower), Queer Thoughts, New York (2019); Una Mujer Fantástica (A Fantastic Woman), Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin, Germany (2018);  Puppies Puppies, XYZ Collective, Tokyo (2016). Her work was featured in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, the 9th Berlin Biennale and X Nicaraguan Biennale.

About Queer|Art

Queer|Art connects and empowers LGBTQ+ artists across generations and creative disciplines. Founded in 2009, we are an artist-led and community-centered organization—united by shared values of collective care, creative resilience, and the preservation and advancement of queer legacies and queer futures.

The devastating loss of a generation of artists to the ongoing AIDS pandemic has created a profound longing for cross-generational connections, mentorship, and community. Queer|Art serves as a ballast against this loss, seeking to highlight and address a continuing fundamental lack of both economic and institutional support for our community.

Ongoing programmatic initiatives include: our annual cornerstone program, the year-long Queer|Art|Mentorship and a wide array of awards, grants, and offerings that provide direct support to LGBTQ+ artists.

Website: www.queer-art.org
Instagram: @queerart

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