Paintings by trans artists from TN and Kerala find their way into US exhibition


Abhinaya, a trans woman from Chennai, died of multiple health problems during the peak of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in September 2020 at the age of 34.

She was passionate about painting and her struggles in life as a trans person were often reflected in her works.

Although Abhinaya is no more, a painting she made three years ago will soon find its place in ‘Visibility and commemoration: Supporting the trans community, an exhibition organized by the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, University of South Florida.

“I am happy that her work has been honored posthumously,” said transwoman, activist and artist Kalki Subramaniam.

A total of eight paintings by trans artists from Tamil Nadu and Kerala will be featured in the exhibition from November 20 to April 20, 2022. The selected paintings will also be featured on the university’s website.

Of the eight performers, the trans women Abhinaya, Kalki, Silky Prema, Rupakala, Rambha, Sandhya and the trans man Ramesh are from Tamil Nadu. Transwoman Saji Varrier is the only artist from Kerala.

25 entries

“A total of 25 entries were submitted by trans people from India. Of these, the eight applications we sent were selected for the exhibition. Our works chosen for the exhibition are an international honor for the Indian trans community, ”Ms. Kalki said. All of the works selected for the exhibition are essentially a celebration of the lives of trans people.

“There is a general misconception that trans people just beg and prostitute themselves. We hope that the international acceptance of our works of art will help us break down stereotypes, ”Ms. Kalki said.

Ms. Prema said her painting, “Cooking Guru,” an acrylic on canvas work, portrays the culinary skills of trans people.

Ms Kalki said her team is working to get government help to set up a gallery and vocational training center for trans people in Pollachi.

“Our most urgent appeal to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu is to allocate space and sanction funds for the center where vocational training can be offered to trans people. As the coconut capital, Pollachi will have immense potential to provide professional training in the manufacturing and marketing of coconut products, ”she said.

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