LGBTQ South Florida

TransArt festival seeks to transform, educate in Miami Beach, Wilton Manors

Santa Fe artist Steven Snyder stands with his paintings during the Visionary Luncheon to launch TransArt, presented by Unity Coalition and The Betsy South Beach on Thursday, June 16, 2016. TransArt features work by transgender artists. Trans Poets Workshop founder Cat Fitzpatrick, editor, author, poet and English literature teacher at Rutgers University-Newark, was the luncheon's featured speaker. Paintings by Snyder are exhibited at The Betsy South Beach hotel, 1440 Ocean Dr.
Santa Fe artist Steven Snyder stands with his paintings during the Visionary Luncheon to launch TransArt, presented by Unity Coalition and The Betsy South Beach on Thursday, June 16, 2016. TransArt features work by transgender artists. Trans Poets Workshop founder Cat Fitzpatrick, editor, author, poet and English literature teacher at Rutgers University-Newark, was the luncheon's featured speaker. Paintings by Snyder are exhibited at The Betsy South Beach hotel, 1440 Ocean Dr. mhalper@miamiherald.com

Throught this weekend, TransArt has highlighted transgender artists from across the United States and is transforming Miami Beach and Wilton Manors into centers for education, creative collaboration and artistic platforms.

Co-founder Aryah Lester, a trans woman of color originally from Georgia, said it’s difficult for transgender artists to find a supportive community and resources.

“You’re going up against a lot of odds that makes it difficult for you to live like a normal person,” Lester said. “This is really for anyone in the community for them to get to know this community, and we want to use something positive like art to connect people together. Art transcends boundaries.”

Dedicated to helping others like herself, Lester is an educator, mentor and serves on the board of the Unity Coalition, Florida’s first organization for the LGBT Hispanic community, which partners in presenting TransArt.

The festival ran Thursday through Sunday in Miami Beach and will be presented June 22-26 in Wilton Manors.

TransArt features documentaries, exhibits and receptions with poets, painters, photographers and a diverse range of artists.

“We got together with community partners like Survivors Pathway, LGBT Visitors Center, and many others and decided to put together a good series that would highlight the community positively,” Lester said. “The art offers people a better understanding of the community because it gives insight into the artists’ lives and it reflects the things they have gone through.”

LJ Woolston, a photographer from Miami, is one of this year’s participants and a speaker on Friday. He said having a festival like TransArt has helped him gain more exposure as a professional artist and has allowed him to reach others who have dealt with similar issues.

“To be part of an event like TransArt is inspiring to me. It shows the community that we are complex, talented, and so much more than what society at large makes us out to be,” Woolston said. “It also speaks to the pain that many of us feel for much of our lives, and the many artistic outlets for that. Some of the deepest pain creates the most beautiful art.”

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If you go

What: Unity Coalition second annual TransArt

When: June 22-26 in Wilton Manors

Cost: Free

For more information: Call 305-262-0060 or visit unitycoalition.org/Trans.html for the list of events

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