Project 42 was launched in 2012 and will continue until 42 separate memorial garments and collaborations have been completed. Like the concept of rebirth through dance, the number 42 is a symbolic number that represents the short life expectancy of transgender individuals in the USA. The purpose for selecting this specific age is linked to my strong desire to elevate the discussion about the life expectancy of transgender individuals in the USA versus cisgender individuals (even though the number itself is almost impossible to verify) and to add visibility to the role that violence against transgender individuals plays in that life expectancy.
Each piece in the project starts with the creation of a garment that begins as a screen shot capture from Google Earth of a location where a murder of a transgender individual has taken place. This screen shot is then manipulated in Photoshop to create a colourful and abstract pattern that is turned into fabric through digital printing. The fabric is sewn into a garment to be worn by a collaborator based on the measurements and instructions that they provide me with. Each collaborator is given the name and background of the individual that they are representing but I do not attempt to direct their performance or activity. Some of my collaborators are professional artists who may wish to interpret the project in their movements, while others are volunteers who dance as recreation or whom wish to participate through sharing the types of every day experiences stolen from the murder victims that make up so much of life’s importance.
The project harnesses movement as a vehicle of memorialization and activism. Additionally the idea of “hosting” is explored by each collaborator as a means to return the humanity to the individual represented in the garment whose status as human is stripped first by the action of violence but then often further by police and media treatment of their identity and history. Each volunteer documents their movements through video or photographic means and returns the garment and documentation to me. Information related to the project’s concept is presented with each work as accompanying literature as well as within the titles for each garment. Additionally, the project’s blog, features details about each pattern and the individual it represents, as well as images and video from the project.
In 2018 Project 42 was presented to the public in a major exhibition at Seattle Art Museum. This opportunity was the result of receiving the prestigious Betty Bowen Award. Her accompanying exhibition was reviewed in the Seattle Times, City Arts magazine, and media works discussing the show included articles in Them magazine and the Surface Design Journal.
Project 42 has received funding from The Pollination Project, National Performance Network and Visual Artist Network (Art Burst Grant), and Art Matters Foundation Org.
Please visit the Project 42 blog for updates, documentation of performances, and information on the individuals memorialized
Click Here for Performance Documentation
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Screen shot from Project 42 collaboration with Mia D'Avanza in NYC
Click Here for Photos of all Completed Works
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Digital Painting Pattern for Myra Ical who was murdered
Copyright Molly Vaughan