Ria Brodell: Butch Heroes
Ria Brodell is a non-binary trans artist, educator and author based in Boston, USA, who since 2010 has been reclaiming lost history by researching and painting portraits of gender nonconforming people throughout history, from Katherina Hetzeldorfer, who lived as a man and married a woman in Germany in 1477, to more recent stories of people who had to survive by hiding their true sexuality or gender identity. As part of Canary Wharf’s activities in support of Pride in London 2019, we exhibit the fascinating stories of ten such people from Brodell’s series Butch Heroes, published as a book in 2018.
‘I have chosen the term ‘Butch’ for my title because of its dual nature: it has been slung as an insult and used as a congratulatory recognition of strength. It has a history within the LGBTQIA community and is familiar to the cisgender, heterosexual community. In addition to the term’s traditional associations of being masculine in appearance or actions, I chose ‘Butch Heroes’ to indicate people who were strong or brave in the way they lived their lives and challenged their societies’ strict gender roles.’ www.riabrodell.com
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