UBC Theses and Dissertations
Seen|Unseen Dennis, Jacen
This research document is a support paper to my MFA thesis exhibition, Seen|Unseen. I am a transmasculine/transgender digital media artist living in Canada where currently, as of 2021, there is still an unprecedented drug crisis in which it feels as though little is being accomplished to curb the losses. My younger sister became a statistic in the ‘opioid crisis’ when she died in her bedroom, the drug she was expecting being unexpectedly laced with fentanyl. Occurring within a week of this event was the date in which I had originally planned to share my trans identity to my family. I continued to develop my trans identity separate from my parents until a few months later when I told them. Being unable to share that part of myself with my sister, I was faced with what felt like insurmountable guilt and regret in my decision to wait as long as I had. I have created the artworks for this thesis exhibition to address the interlacing aspects of familial loss and transition, and what it means to create a new relationship with someone who is gone. I never had the chance to be my sister’s brother, and therefore, my only memories and experiences with her are when I was not my authentic and natural self. Inspired by ideas like active imagination in Jungian analytical psychology and expressive art therapy, I created digitally animated artworks that first addressed the grief of a sister’s death, then an intersection and acknowledgement of the idea that our lives never truly overlapped. Finally, I created artworks that address the simultaneous-with-grief excitement and euphoria of my physical transformation, and of an inherent loss and change of identity in transition. The use of digital animation is in itself an artistic process and expression of psychological well-being, creating a relationship between the artist and the artwork that aids in healing.
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