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Past Event Art in Context: Visibility and Erasure

A person in a white gown stands at a microphone on a brightly lit stage in front of a shimmering silver backdrop, with her arms outstretched, chin raised, and eyes closed.

Still from Happy Birthday, Marsha!

In 1974 Andy Warhol completed his most lucrative commission—Ladies and Gentlemen, a series of over 200 striking portraits of African American and Latina drag queens and trans women. The subjects received just $50 to sit for Polaroids in Warhol’s studio, and they were not named when the work debuted in Italy in 1975. Now over 40 years later researchers at The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts have successfully identified all of Warhol’s subjects in the series, including iconic transgender performer and activist, Marsha ‘Pay it No Mind’ Johnson.

Join us for Happy Birthday, Marsha! followed by a discussion about visibility, representation, and authorship with filmmakers Tourmaline and Sasha Wortzel, moderated by local advocate Ciora Thomas. Happy Birthday, Marsha! imagines iconic transgender performer and activist, Marsha ‘Pay it No Mind’ Johnson in the hours before the 1969 anti-policing riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Starring Independent Spirit Award Winner Mya Taylor with cinematography by Arthur Jafa, Happy Birthday, Marsha! blends documentary storytelling with historical fiction to counter the endemic erasure of trans women of color from narratives of political resistance.

Art in Context

Artists, scholars, and community members come together to consider creative expression in relation to timely political and social concerns.


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