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Friday, May 31, 2019
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Center on Halsted


LQBTQ Artists Gallery Opening Exhibit launches on Friday, May 31, from 6:00-8:00 pm. The opening night event is the official premiere of the work by artists Diane Alexander White & CJ Sikora. Opening night reception will include a cash bar.

Artist Statements:


Diane Alexander White

It was 1976, the year of the United States Bicentennial and Diane Alexander White was one of the few people in the crowd with a camera at the 7th Annual Gay Pride Parade. Bus and car traffic flowed Northbound on Broadway Avenue while the Gay Pride marchers carried signs in the Southbound lanes in a grassroots effort to draw attention to LGBTQ rights. The exhibit of photos from 1976 contrasts to the millions who congregate today in what is now known as Boystown in Chicago.  

Diane was born and raised in the city where she received a BA in Design and Photography from the University of Illinois in Chicago, and served as a photographer at the Field Museum of Natural History for 25 years. While photographing the Museum's extensive natural history collection she created exhibits that showcased Native American collections of artifacts with funding granted by NAGPRA. "With Patience and Good Will: The Art of the Arapaho," "Cheyenne Visions" and "Travels of the Crow: Journey of an Indian Nation,” traveled to the tribal lands of the Plains Indians and to museums throughout the United States.

Portraiture in the urban landscape is the foremost passion of Diane's. Follow her on Instagram to view images of a changing world from 1974 to the present day. Photography continues to inspire Diane Alexander White, as she seeks the next illusive image.


CJ Sikora

The photos on display were part of a study of transgender people. The photos were taken from the late 1980’s to around 2005. The study was used in a number of shows. The primary purpose was take a look at the various kinds of lives that trans people were living. I didn’t follow people in their daily lives but rather showed them how they presented themselves. The photos that were taken using a background are much like you might see at a wedding of similar sort of event where family pictures are taken. The background is distilled to just the subject, no hint of where they my work or reside or really what their lives are other than what they wish to present. 

The stage performers or ‘drag queens’ more commonly are shown in their element. On stage and in their dressing areas. Sometimes the dressing areas are little more that carve-outs in an otherwise dingy back room. There was nothing glamorous in these dressing locations. The performers would stage runway shows that would put a Parisian fashion show to shame.  This doesn’t even begin to describe the performances that were staged. Most were lip syncing acts that mimicked what current pop singers were doing. Some were better than good singers in what they presented. All of these performances were idealized versions of what we believe to be feminine. Quite a few women (ones that have female noted on their original birth certificates) that have seen these pix have mentioned things like ‘how come they look so good’ or ‘I’m jealous’. 

There was an underlying purpose with this body of work and was to show a larger audience of transgender life. (the study started before the word transgender was commonly used) That audience was not only a gay audience but the larger culture. The photos were meant to start a dialog of who transgender people were. They are the larger America. In saying that the photos were to be used as a political statement. To convince the political class that there were people that saw themselves in a different way and weren’t afraid to go out and be out. The pix were used to show a new normal, to help in getting legislation passed that enabled and is enabling the country to grow. That legislation passed in 2005 in Chicago and Cook County. Soon after LGBT Civil Rights legislation passed in Illinois. Not long after Civil Unions and then LGBT Marriage passed. The struggle for civil rights is not over, if you watch or listen to the news anyone can plainly see it’s definitely not over. 

On the 50th anniversary year of Stonewall, let’s remember who started the rebellion. 

Donations welcome.

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