Rae Strozzo

Rae Strozzo, transgender visual artist, photographer, writer and educator, is showcasing his latest collection of work in a gallery showing at Fluxx Productions from June 3 to June 29. The show focuses on the recent loss of his dad through a series of cell phone photos and a video piece taken in Georgia. On June 23, Strozzo will give an artist talk set up to be a performance alongside his work from 4 to 6 p.m. Contact him at rae@raestrozzo.com.

When did you begin creating art?

I started doing little things when I was a kid, but it really started for me the last couple years that I lived in Georgia.

Where does your work come from?

A lot of the work that I make is personal in some ways, and sort of driven by that kind of notion of having the idea ... first, and then fitting the media that makes the most sense for what I'm trying to say—which is part of the reason that I do a lot of different things. For me, the self-expression piece is really important because of who I am as a person, not having a lot of voice, not having a lot of opportunity to be who I really was growing up, and even in early adulthood.

Tell me about your upcoming show, Breathing Lessons.

Breathing Lessons actually comes from the poem by Mark O'Brien ... he just talks about his experience with air essentially, and I was really drawn to that idea ... my art is about centering in some way, about being earnest and being honest and all those things. And that when I have bigger things happen in my life, that the work becomes like a catalyst to talk about it, but also just to experience it and walk through it, and that's part of what the show's about—it's about walking through the grieving process to a certain degree and what that looks like.

What do you hope viewers take away from your show?

I think the South is a funny place in how it changes so slowly, and there was so much familiar in a situation that was so not like anything I'd experienced. Taking those photographs was about having something tangible in that moment, and I guess in some ways on a very visual level just wanting to share that space with people ... a lot of the photographs—some of them are things that were in my dad's truck, some of them are farm equipment and stuff that he drove, things that he built, those kinds of things ... I think a lot of them are sort of like, interesting and beautiful in their own way, because of the way they're designed, so there's that part of it ... it's really about beauty in loss and all of us can connect with that one way or another because we all experience it.

How has your artwork changed through your transitions—from different cities to different identities?

When I first started making work it really was about having a really visceral moment of 'I need for people to understand who I am' in some way ... about 'I'm here, this is what it sounds like, this is what it feels like, this is what it looks like.' But as I get older, and after moving away and being here and being more settled in my life and really coming to terms with who I am as a person ... as I have come to grips with that part of it, my art has changed. It's moved away from that sort of angry space to being about 'Well, what does it look like in the broader context of my life?' And I think in that way, the work's become more accessible, because it's not so tightly wound around having people understand or having a trans audience necessarily. It's much broader.

What kind of media will your show consist of?

It's almost all photography ... and then there is a video piece, and then there's one piece that is something that I wrote. It's produced as an image but it's a scan of something I wrote. And I'm also doing an artist talk with that, and the talk is ... actually set up to be more of a performance that goes along with the work that's in the space.