For Global 102 today we had to meet up in G11 in McCain. We first played a game where we all switched phones, had to find the person that owns the phone, and learn their name, a fun fact about them, and their favorite color.
For Global 102 today we had to meet up in G11 in McCain. We first played a game where we all switched phones, had to find the person that owns the phone, and learn their name, a fun fact about them, and their favorite color.
At the Dana gallery at Agnes Scott College, there is a current exhibit named Side by Side. These two pieces intrigued me the most because of the fact of how solemn the atmosphere of the two is. Although Katherine Taylor’s is so small, the emotion of the piece is extremely effective at that size. The piece seems to be of either a flooded road or a pond in a desolate area. Either way, the mood of this piece is sort of calming, yet almost mourning at the same time. My interpretation of this mood comes mostly from the color scheme Taylor has chosen; the dull colors and emphasis on the reflection represent a sense of being lost. I really was enthralled by the use of colors to create such a serene atmosphere.
On the other hand, Sally Mann’s photograph is striking yet radiates a sense of homesickness. Her composition, and focusing on the blank sky and horizon allows for the viewer to feel calm. However, the dark contrasts in the shadows of the photograph bring in an unsettling feeling to the entire work. It could depend on each viewer, but to me, it feels as if the photographer is yearning to return to this place, though their memories of being there are not all positive. I particularly really like how the artist left the photograph black and white, and it even reminded me a bit of the old places I would ask home.
For our final exam, we were assigned to create a series of six drawings, which should have incorporate skills and techniques that we have been developing all semester, such as composition, use of materials, and the elements and principles of design. We were expected to work from observation, whether it be still-life or a digital photograph that we took ourselves. However, we were allowed to diverge from the observational aspect in order to allow for more creative aspects to be included.
My pieces were centered around anatomy and body parts. Originally, I wanted to do portraits of my friends but decided that I could push myself further by choosing a subject matter I am more unfamiliar with. In these pieces, I didn’t want to include every single aspect of anatomy, and so I decided that going for a more severed theme would allow room for me to play with compositions, as well as add a chaotic mood to the pieces. By viewing my work, you can see that there are many colors used within all the pieces, which was a choice made to increase the abstraction of the pieces, another area I wanted to challenge myself with.
For my first piece, I wanted the background to demonstrate the dynamics and rhythms that torsos are known for, while actually keeping the torsos static. The torsos were done on a paper bag and then collaged on top of the background, and while I believe that this is not my most successful piece, I am confident about the composition I utilized in it. Although the piece was, in my opinion, one of the simpler pieces in the entire final, I believe that my use of color and utilizing a border allowed for this piece to be successful in its own way.
My second piece, showing hands reaching for a moon, was a composition that I liked the most. The dynamic movement of the hands reaching further up moves the eye in that direction as well, contributing immensely to the overall composition. The moon in the sky adds contrast and disruption to the colorful aspect of the rest of the piece; this was done to represent the peace that the hands were grasping towards. The words in the background grow bigger and increase in darkness as they reach the bottom, which was a technique I utilized to add more contrast to the piece. The hands were done with color pencils, the background with spray paint, gouache, and Sharpie, and the moon was done with collage. The hands and the moon were done separately and later adhered to the final piece.
My third piece shows a distorted self-portrait in my bathroom at home, and the figure is instead replaced with multiple eyes. I wanted the viewer to feel uneasy when they observed this piece, as the message is that the figure feels like they are constantly being watched. The chaotic color scheme of the bathroom and the black and white scheme of the figure are also meant to convey this uneasiness. This piece was personally a challenge for me because it was the first time I properly worked with gouache. As my confidence with the medium grew, I had a better understanding of how layering colors with gouache to create different effects would impact the overall feel. The bathroom was done first as a blind contour, cleaned up, and then painted over. The figure in the middle was done with a pen, utilizing a little bit of blind contour as well.
My fourth piece shows ears on meat hooks, in front of a separated background in which the top half is made of a collage of newspaper clippings. The ears were done with gouache on separate paper and later adhered to the piece. However, the ears were a challenge to complete. I was trying to experiment with the versatility of gouache, and I am satisfied with the outcome, but learning how to manipulate the medium took more effort than anticipated. My placement of the ears could have been executed better, particularly on the left where two of the pieces overlap. As for the news clippings, they are from a Spanish newspaper, which I chose specifically because that is the language that I grew up around and heard the most.
My fifth piece is, in my opinion, my weakest piece of the six. For the base of the piece, I utilized gum wrappers and the packaging they come in. I decided that the background was too plain, therefore I attempted to tint it with ink, did not like the result, and later on added oil pastel to add more contrast. The mouths were done with ink pencils separately and later adhered to the piece. Once I added the mouths, I decided that the piece was still missing an element so I added text to the remaining spaces in the piece. If I were to do this piece again, I would vary the sizes in the mouths, make them much brighter than they are now, keep the text, and probably keep the gum wrappers and packaging the way they originally were.
My sixth piece was one that I had many challenges with, but I am satisfied with the result. I initially painted the legs with gouache and painted the background orange. However, compared to my other pieces it looked too plain and it didn’t convey the feel I wanted it to. I decided that the legs would look better with an outline, therefore I used Sharpie to create a thick border around the legs. I also added the bones sticking out of the top of the torso and at the ankles, however, it still did not tie the piece together as I intended. I finally decided that adding more concrete shapes would aid in the composition, and so I added red and yellow boxes to the background and decorated them with patterns. This piece was meant to portray movement and the dynamics of legs, and adding the patterns conveyed that sentiment more effectively.
Throughout this semester, I have definitely grown a lot. Not only have I had a lot of practice with my technical skills, but I was also introduced to new media that I have grown comfortable with. I grew as an artist, especially with this final project. I pushed myself and focused on subjects that were out of my comfort zone, and I did so using coloring and painting techniques that I am also not used to. While my theme did stress me out a bit since it was a lot and I had assignments for other classes to work on, I’m glad that I chose the theme I did.
Prior to my first year at Agnes Scott College, I was accustomed to an environment that discouraged critical thinking and critique on the material we were discussing. Consequently, the expectation to be able to critically analyze beliefs, perspectives, and information in my Leadership 101 class, Race, Gender, and Social Change, was a challenge for me to overcome. The first challenge appeared when we were asked what we believed leadership was on the first day of class. I initially believed that leadership was an individual who stayed at the front lines and encouraged positive change in various ways. Due to the knowledge I’ve gained throughout this course, as well as my development in my critical thinking skills, my definition of leadership has changed drastically. Compared to before when I thought leadership was focused solely on one individual, now, I believe that leadership is willingly taking responsibility to make difficult decisions while simultaneously creating an environment in which those around you can also contribute to the cause.
The first assignment instructed us to analyze William Cronon’s essay “Only Connect… The Goals of a Liberal Education.” All first years are required to read it, and it is seen as Agnes Scott’s standard of a liberally educated individual. Of course, since I arrived from an environment that discouraged individual thought, it was difficult for me to criticize his work. Cronon states that liberally educated individuals are able to listen to others, read and understand any material, can talk with anyone despite differences, are astounding writers, can problem solve, are rigorous, humble, action-based, nurturing, and most of all, are able to connect with others. At first, I had no criticism of Cronon— since Agnes Scott claimed his essay was a standard for all their students, I figured there were no criticisms to be made. However, after another run-through, questions emerged. Cronon states that a liberally educated individual must adhere to the characteristics on his list, yet no person can truly meet all these requirements. Also, Cronon primarily focuses on the individual, but shouldn’t it be emphasized that a liberally educated person should be able to encourage, and work with, others around them? Furthermore, Cronon is a white man preaching to others his ideals of a liberally educated person. Obviously, he has privileges that others can never achieve, therefore, his view of a liberally educated person is biased. While I do believe that a liberally educated individual can be what is on Cronon’s list, I do not believe that they must fulfill every requirement on it. A liberally educated person can have flaws and still be able to work around them.
Although Cronon had views that are controversial and biased, Stacey Abrams has views that are comparatively much more universal. In September, Abrams came to Agnes Scott College to speak about her book, “Lead from the Outside,” in which she reflects upon her struggle to become a leader as a woman of color. She states the hardships that she has gone through, from racism, sexism, and even the despondence she faced at her loss in the 2018 Georgia governor’s race. When asked how to be a leader, Abrams states that no matter what, a leader cannot be afraid to fail. This statement is much more universal than Cronon’s because while Cronon is preaching about requirements a liberally educated individual must meet, Abrams encourages comfort in flexibility and the risks that come with it. Since she is a woman of color, and since she has struggled with proving herself to the world, I connected much more to Abram’s outlook than Cronon’s privileged one. Every woman in my assigned readings had the same outlook on leadership as Abrams, and it resonated throughout their arguments. From Betty Friedan and her explanation of the absence of women’s sense of fulfillment to Rebecca Walker and her stance on the third wave of feminism after the Anita Hill hearings, these women, raised in eras of sexism, could not afford to be afraid to fail. Otherwise, their message would never be seen in a world where men have the dominant voice in every conversation.
While these readings enhanced my understanding of leadership, I was also challenged to actively practice this belief. In my LDR-101 class, we were randomly assigned to be in groups, and we maintained these groups throughout the semester with assignments and projects. Working in my assigned group was a challenge for me at first, considering that none of us knew each other. However, the further we developed ideas together and understood each other’s working habits, a sense of balance was established. While our first project together, a case study presentation on Zitkala-Sa, was subjectively lackluster compared to the other presentations, our group dynamics had grown significantly stronger due to this assignment. We learned how to work with each other despite our differences to create a product bigger than the sum of its parts. Additionally, with this experience I grew significantly as a leader and defined my role— I often took the initiative to keep everyone on task, created group meetings so that we could evaluate our progress, and made sure that we met the deadlines we had set for ourselves. This development in defining my leadership skills has not only made a significant impact on my leadership outside of the classroom but also has allowed for our group work to go much smoother than it had before.
Race, Gender, and Social Change was a class that changed my mindset and my ideals of leadership completely. The class challenged my perspectives and beliefs that were instilled by previous environments that did not want me to think for myself. Not only that, but Leadership 101 also aided me in my journey of learning how to think for myself and being comfortable doing so. Looking back on William Cronon’s essay, I believe that he has a few valid points in his definition of a liberally educated individual. However, being liberally educated, or a leader, should mean that you are able to be fluid among the standards others implement on you. As Stacey Abrams stated, you cannot be afraid to fail, and sticking to a list that a liberally educated white man has created is maintaining a comfort zone where you cannot fail. Through our readings of various women leaders in history and being obligated to learn how to productively work in groups, Leadership 101 has taught me that leadership is not focused solely on one person. Leadership cannot be established without considering the individuals who surround you and depend on your input. One cannot be a leader if they are not self-aware and willing to learn from others, but most importantly, a leader cannot be afraid of the possibility of failure.
On December 8th, I went to the High Museum to see their permanent collection as well as the exhibits they were hosting. One work of art that caught my eye was Robert Rauschenburg’s piece Overcast III. While I am a fan of Robert Rauschenburg, I have never actually seen his pieces in person, and in fact, I don’t think I knew that he made this piece. What drew me to this specific work is the layering effect he created by putting Plexiglas over each other to create a new image as a whole. Robert Rauschenberg created his art by screen printing certain images while still incorporating abstract expressionism. From far away, the piece looks abstract, but as you approach begin to see the finer details of the work. His work is extremely expressive, complex, and saturated with contrast. The pop-culture imagery in the work with allusions to the space exploration creates a beautiful piece that is exaggerated by the darkness the layering depicts.
Another piece that caught my eye at the High Museum was Camille Pissarro’s Ornamental Lake at Kew Gardens. What caught my eye about this piece was the texture that Pissarro puts into the work with oil. The three-dimensional effect that the texture gives the painting makes it appear much livelier than it truly is. Pissarro was an Impressionist, which truthfully has never appealed to me very much. However, seeing the work in person was extremely impressive. His color scheme, which consists mostly of cool colors, is extremely serene and calming. All the different strokes of color in the work certainly pulled me into the actual painting. The high contrasts with the brushstrokes throughout the painting allows for much value to be interpreted even though there are no formal outlines.
Sylvia Rivera was a Latina American of Puerto Rican and Venezuelan descent, born on July 2nd, 1951. She was a transgender rights activist who fought for the rights of those who were marginalized as the gay liberation movement surfaced, but specifically, she was a voice for people of color and those of low income in transgender and LGBTQ+ spaces. Although she died of liver cancer on February 19, 2002, her impact on the transgender community is still felt to this day. Although the gay liberation movement was initiated to unite the entirety of the gay community, discrimination still divided the individuals within. Sylvia Rivera was excluded from the freedom that the gay, white, cisgender, upper to middle-class sought because she and other activists represented themselves as a part of the transgender community.
To comprehend how Sylvia Rivera was introduced into the movement, one must first understand her unpleasant childhood. Her father left when she was born, and her mother committed suicide when she was three years old, failing to kill Sylvia with her. As a result, her grandmother, Viejita, took care of her, but not without malice in her heart. Viejita claimed that Sylvia was a “troublemaker,” reminding Rivera constantly that she did not want her and instead wished for a “white child” (Gan 129). Furthermore, Sylvia Rivera demonstrated effeminate and promiscuous behavior at a very young age. Rivera stated that she “began wearing makeup in the fourth grade,” “already had sex with her 14-year-old cousin by age seven,” and “by age ten she was having sex with her fifth-grade teacher, a married man” (Gan 129). Her behavior brought judgment not only from her neighbors and community but also relentless abuse from her grandmother.
Due to these consequences, Sylvia Rivera decided to run away at eleven years old to 42nd street in Times Square, where sex workers and drag queens were known to frequent. Once she was there, drag queens took her in and had a formal ceremony to name her Sylvia Rivera. Out of respect for Rivera, her deadname, a transgender individual’s name at birth, will not be discussed. However, she recalled the naming ceremony as “being reborn,” and it led the way for her to be able to participate so heavily in activism (Gan 130). Her new community also led Sylvia Rivera to be present for the Stonewall Inn riots of June 28th, 1969. In fact, it is commonly recognized that she threw the second bottle at the police officers, however, the controversy over this statement will be discussed later on.
Contextual Overview of the Movement
The mid to late 1900s brought about a sense of unrest and agitation within the gay community. Individuals who identified themselves as gay could not get proper housing, jobs, healthcare, and even education. Those who were a part of the gay community would get thrown into jail solely for their sexual orientation, and, if applicable, their gender expression. However, the transgender community not only faced ostracization from the law, but they also faced ostracization from the rest of the gay movement. Transgender is defined by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation as “an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth” (GLAAD). Although transgender individuals have been prevalent for centuries, especially in indigenous cultures, transphobia reached a peak in the 1900s. Transphobia is the “the fear, hatred, disbelief, or mistrust of people who are transgender, thought to be transgender, or whose gender expression doesn’t conform to traditional gender roles” (Parenthood). All of these frustrations with oppression from cisgender heterosexuals, as well as those from within the gay community, accumulated into the Stonewall Inn riots in the early hours of June 28th, 1969.
It is often misconstrued that the Stonewall Inn was a drag queen bar. In reality, the proprietors of Stonewall seldom let anyone who was gender non-conforming to enter because they felt their presence would attract police to their doors. If owners happened to allow drag queens into their bar, it was because those individuals had connections to the owners. In Sylvia Rivera’s words, Stonewall Inn was “a white, male bar for middle-class males to pick up young boys of different races” (Gan 131). From this statement alone it is evident that racism still found its way within the gay community, which is without a doubt a major factor in the police raid that occurred that night.
The attendees of Stonewall Inn were startled by the arrival of police officers that night, since reportedly the owners would be informed beforehand, allowing the attendees time to escape. Once the police raid commenced, a common division within these raids occurred; Sylvia Rivera described the routine as “it was ‘faggots over here, dykes over here, and freaks over there,’ referring to my side of the community” (Gan 131). Police officers soon began to round up those that they assumed were gay, and those who went against the three-piece law. Although there was no evidence found of this law formally existing, it was a common rule of thumb that police officers used to incarcerate transgender individuals. The three-piece law stated that an individual had to have at least three items of clothing that conformed to their assigned gender at birth, and if they didn’t, they would be taken to jail. Soon after the raid started, a police officer began to manhandle a butch lesbian who went against the three-piece law. The butch lesbian began to fight back and even yelled at the rest of the crowd to help her. At this initiation, the drag queens in the crowd began throwing pennies at the police officers, causing everyone else to join in the riot.
The riots began that night, and they continued for several more. The Stonewall riots were a turning point in LGBT+ history; not only was this the first major gay demonstration against police officers, but also the gay community had finally united in resistance. Stonewall is described by Martin Duberman as “the emblematic event in modern [queer] history…an empowering symbol of global proportions,” which can be demonstrated by the organizations that were established because of it (McCarthy 13). Organizations such as the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) were the most prominent ones to be founded in this time period, and Sylvia Rivera is known to be one of the first members of both. Rivera attended their meetings, stating that “[she] thought that night in 1969 was going to be [their] unity for the rest of [their] lives,” but unfortunately, that was not the case for those who didn’t conform to the organizations’ white, cisgender, middle-class ideals (Gan 133).
At the New York Gay Pride Parade in March of 1973, three years after Stonewall, Sylvia Rivera gave a speech now known as “Y’all Better Quiet Down,” where she spoke to a gay, cisgender, white, middle-class crowd who were heckling her from the moment she stepped onstage. Even though everyone was present to be united for the liberation movement, those in attendance refused to listen to Rivera’s words because of how she identified herself. Rivera soon managed to speak over the crowd, and stated, “I’ve been trying to get up here all day for your gay brothers and gay sisters in jail,” which insinuates that even before she stepped onto the stage she faced inequity from those in charge (Rivera). Many leaders of the gay movement attempted to erase her contributions because they deemed her as unsuitable to be standing at the front lines. Those who oversaw the revolution had the belief that those of the transgender community were not “gay” enough to act in the liberation movement, and so they actively tried to steer her away from participating. In fact, even before Sylvia Rivera got onstage, Jean O’Leary of the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) publicly denounced Rivera for “parodying” womanhood, and the Lesbian Feminist Liberation (LFL) passed out flyers opposing the “female impersonators,” otherwise, the drag queens present (Gan 133).
The discrimination that the drag queens faced at this parade led to Rivera scrutinizing the audience for their marginalization towards the transgender community. Objectively, the entirety of “Y’all Better Quiet Down” correlates back to intersectional politics—Sylvia Rivera is pointing out that not only is the cisgender, white, middle-class audience ignoring her, they are also ignoring the issues that those who do not conform to the crowd’s ideal identities are facing as well. Intersectional politics, otherwise known as intersectionality, is defined by Wendy Smooth as “the ways in which race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, and nationality… intersect to produce unique… experiences… that [are] equal to more than just the sum of their parts” (Smooth 31). To prove her point of double oppression, Rivera exclaims, “I have been to jail. I have been raped… and beaten. Many times! By… heterosexual men… but do you do anything for me? No! You tell me to go and hide my tail between my legs…” which noticeably silences the crowd (Rivera). With the expression of frustration in her voice, the crowd is compelled to examine their hypocritical behavior. Despite the hate crimes and violence that Rivera has faced, she still gives support to a revolution that does not even bother to support her back.
When considering intersectionality, Sylvia Rivera’s identity impacts the way the listener interprets the speech and the way they interpret how the cisgender, white, middle-class reacted to Rivera’s presence. Not only was Sylvia Rivera a Latina American in a time of racism, but she also had an association with the transgender community, which received endless belittlement and ostracization from other members of the gay movement. Therefore, the listener would be accurate in guessing that the crowd’s harassment and dismissal of Rivera were due to these biases, and so Sylvia Rivera had to build her speech around those judgments. Despite these prejudices, transgender activists like Sylvia Rivera actively put in more effort in order to perpetuate the gay liberation movement in the interest of including all spectrums of identity, even if no one wanted to see them at the front lines.
Critical Analysis of Contributions and Legacy
As mentioned beforehand, the 1969 Stonewall Inn riots caused many organizations such as the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Activists Association (GAA) to be founded. These meetings were attended by a majority of gay, white, cisgender, and middle-class individuals, and they made fun of Rivera and other drag queens for their class, race, and gender expression. It is even stated that “if someone was not sniggering at [Rivera’s] passionate, fractured English, they were… denouncing her sashaying ways as offensive to womanhood” (Gan 133). Though Sylvia Rivera did not identify as transgender at first and instead identified only as a drag queen, she still faced endless transphobia because of the way she presented herself. The GLF and GAA were filled with individuals who refused to hear the voices of the transgender community and of those who lived on the streets, and so Sylvia Rivera and other transgender activists united to find ways to force them to listen.
In 1970, Sylvia Rivera co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with Marsha P. Johnson. STAR provided housing and support for homeless queer youths and sex workers in lower Manhattan. This made STAR one of the only organizations that bothered to include these minorities since other groups, such as the GLF and the GAA, were made up of almost entirely of the cisgender, white, upper to the middle class that felt no responsibility to do so themselves. Though STAR only lasted from 1970 to 1973, the contributions to the gay liberation movement that Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson had in this time period was a big step forward for not only the transgender community but other minorities that identified under the LGBTQ+ label. Along with STAR, Sylvia Rivera had also been diverging into different aspects of the gay liberation movement.
In 1970, it was discovered that New York City was potentially going to pass a gay rights bill that included gender protections. Rivera is reported to have had a significant contribution to this bill, and she even attracted “media attention when she attempted to force her way into closed-door sessions concerning the bill held at City Hall” (Matzner 1). Unfortunately, her insistence and the insistence of other transgender individuals were not enough to successfully advocate equality for the transgender community. In later years, gay activists and politicians agreed in “a backroom deal to raise [the bill’s] chances of passage by removing gender protections from [it]” (Gan 135). The removal of gender protections in the gay rights bill brought about criticism of not only politicians but also of the gay activists in the deal that day. This event deepened the distrust that the transgender community had in the rest of the gay movement because, as Sylvia Rivera stated, “transgender political needs [had yet again been] sold ‘down the river’ in favor of [the needs of the] gays” (Gan 136).
After her speech “Y’all Better Quiet Down” directed towards the white, cisgender, middle-class crowd at the New York Gay Pride Parade of 1973, Sylvia Rivera was brutally beaten. She was beaten by those that she respected, and by those that she had thought were on her side of the movement. This event so greatly frustrated her that she declared 1973 as the end of STAR and the end of her participation in the gay liberation movement. This proclamation was one that sparked the most criticism toward Rivera. It was stated that after she left, gay politics’ “narrow, single-identity agenda situated Rivera on its margins, and viewed her and her memory as both manipulable and dispensable” (Gan 135). Randy Wicker, a friend of Sylvia Rivera, stated that she left the movement because she had been denied the right to speak by the very people she had been supporting all along. Sylvia Rivera left the gay liberation movement and New York for approximately twenty-one years while still struggling with homelessness, suicide attempts, and drug abuse.
In 1994, after Sylvia Rivera had left the gay liberation movement, she was asked to lead the march of the 25th anniversary of Stonewall. Soon after this reintroduction to the gay liberation movement, she “vehemently demanded” the New York City Lesbian and Gay Community Center “to take care of homeless trans and queer youth” (Gan 135). Upon hearing these criticisms, the community center formally banned Sylvia Rivera from their premises. Since the Lesbian and Gay Community Center did not share the struggles of homeless transgender and queer youth, they saw no reason to make any attempts to help them. Rivera publicly criticized them again, stating that “the gay rights movement had to go beyond sexual orientation and include issues of class, race, economic systems, and poverty” (A.S.). To rebel against the community center, she refounded the Street Transgender Action Revolutionaries (STAR) and aimed to have an organization that made an effort to include transgender individuals.
It is important to note that there are many individuals who criticize Rivera’s story. Many believe that she was not present at Stonewall at all, and many believe that she claimed to be involved in more activism than she was to make herself seem more prominent in the gay liberation movement. It is stated that there is “no credible evidence that Rivera was there that first night” and that she instead “arrived on the scene two weeks later” (Carter). Marsha P. Johnson, her close friend at the time, even publicly affirmed that Sylvia Rivera was never actually at the Stonewall riots, saying that “she was asleep after taking heroin uptown” (Cain). However, other gay activists assert that she was. Even so, Rivera insists that she was involved in the Black liberation movement, the women’s movement, and had done protests of the Vietnam War. However, in a 1970 interview with Arthur Bell, before Rivera became famous, it is stated that she “never mentions Stonewall nor any activism before 1970… rather the story… of a sad life” (Carter). With the amount of evidence against Sylvia Rivera, one cannot say for certain if she did indeed do everything she said she did.
Reportedly exaggerating her participation in activism is detrimental to the trust individuals have with Sylvia Rivera, and this trust wavers as more evidence is found. However, whether or not she was at Stonewall, and whether or not she participated in other forms of activism at the time, Sylvia Rivera still made tremendous progress for the transgender community. The gay liberation movement was built almost entirely of the white, cisgender, middle-class, and they refused to acknowledge the double oppression transgender individuals faced from heterosexual and homosexual circles. With the help of other activists, Sylvia Rivera was able to take initiative to provide the transgender community a voice in a society that consistently silenced them.
A. S. “Sylvia Rivera.” Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia, 2019. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=ers&AN=134922024&site=eds-live&scope=site.
Cain, Paul. “David Carter: Historian of the Stonewall Riots.” Gay Today, http://gaytoday.com/interview/070104in.asp.
Carter, David, and Leonard Fink. “Exploding the Myths of Stonewall.” Gay City News, https://www.gaycitynews.nyc/stories/2019/15/david-carter-stonewall-2019-06-27-gcn.html.
Gan, Jessi. “‘Still at the Back of the Bus’: Sylvia Rivera’s Struggle.” Centro Journal, vol. 19, no. 1, Spring 2007, pp. 124–139. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=a9h&AN=25930227&site=eds-live&scope=site.
“GLAAD Media Reference Guide – Transgender.” GLAAD, 19 Apr. 2017, https://www.glaad.org/reference/transgender.
Matzner, Andrew. “Rivera, Sylvia (1951-2002).” GLBTQ Social Sciences, Jan. 2015, pp. 1–2. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=qth&AN=110523386&site=eds-live&scope=site.
McCarthy, Timothy Patrick, et al. “Reclaiming Stonewall.” Nation, vol. 309, no. 1, July 2019, pp. 12–19. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,shib&db=fth&AN=137195833&site=eds-live&scope=site.
Parenthood, Planned. “What’s Transphobia?: Facts About Transphobic Discrimination.” Planned Parenthood, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/sexual-orientation-gender/trans-and-gender-nonconforming-identities/whats-transphobia.
Rivera, Sylvia. “Y’all Better Quiet Down.” Gay Pride Parade. New York City, 3 Nov. 2019.
Smooth, Wendy. “Intersectionalities of Race and Gender and Leadership.” Ohio State University, pp. 31–40.
For this project, we were assigned to explore different mixed media and techniques. While we were allowed to use black and white media used in previous assignments, the focus was to explore color and new variations of media. Not only that, but we were also encouraged to draw subjects that aren’t tangible as well. Therefore, the theme I chose for this project was a dream that reoccurred throughout my senior year of high school.
This project was personally a challenge for me, not only because I had too many assignments to do for other classes, but also because it was an extremely rough week for me and that impacted the quality of my art. Nevertheless, I persevered and decided to do my pieces on 10×12 paper to lessen the burden. For my first piece, depicting the hallway, I initially wanted to use chalk and oil pastel. However, it did not have the intense effect I desired, so I decided to instead use color pencils and an impressionistic style to relay a feeling of unsettlement to the viewer. Also, I utilized complementary colors and analogous colors where I could to contribute to that feeling. I outlined the hallway in red ink, not only because it adds to the agitated atmosphere, but also because black ink would have been too intense and would have distracted the viewer from the strokes of the color pencil.
My second piece is, in my opinion, my weakest piece because it was the one I completed last. At first, I had wanted to draw busses leaving me behind, but the composition and perspective were complicated, so due to time constraints I decided to draw the idea presented in the picture to the right instead. The figures in my dream did not look exactly like those that I drew, but the colorful swirls inside of their bodies is an aspect that I was able to translate onto paper. If I could do the piece again, I would make the figures seem more translucent and the swirls more organic. The texture of the road was done with old mascara that I had laying around. I am satisfied with that aspect because I feel that it adds to the uneasiness of the drawing. The background was done in watercolor and ink, however, if I were to do the project again I would figure out how to make a background that contrasted the figures more than it currently does.
My third piece is simple, but I am satisfied with the end result because it conveys the emotion I intended it to. The light from the lamp post was done with yellow watercolor and the background was done with Sharpie and red ink. The details in the yellow triangle were done with black ink, and I utilized textures in order to provide shading and extra features to the environment behind the standing figure. I manipulated the negative and positive space in the area outside of the triangle in order to convey trees and the spaces between them. In the negative space, I drew red eyes looking in different directions, and the bulb of the lamp post serves as a transition to these since it looks an eye itself.
My fourth piece was done in watercolor as a wash for the interior of the car and my face, and pen was used to add details to both faces and the interior of the car. The pen was also used to add the words in the background, and I utilized color pencils in order to add color and emphasize the car. The composition of this piece is pretty successful in my opinion, as the close up of the face allows the viewer to see the fear in her expression. By leaving the figure mostly white with only a small bit of shading, the viewer is able to see the man as a focal point but not stay stuck on this portion of the drawing. This entire project was challenging for me since it withdraws drastically from a style I am comfortable with, but overall I am satisfied with the end product, especially considering the amount of time I had to complete it.
As mentioned before, the theme of these pieces is a dream that reoccurred throughout my senior year of high school. In this dream, I always woke up in a school that I did not recognize or have ever seen before. The hallways felt claustrophobic, and I was immensely unsettled being there. The school was entirely vacant, but yet it felt so incredibly loud at the same time. As soon as I left, I saw school buses leaving me behind. There was no one outside, and it was completely dark, so I ended up having to make my way home by walking. The roads I went on were empty, but I still felt uneasy. It felt as if there was something, or someone, following me. Whenever I turned back, there were large figures following me, but I only ever saw them in flashes. After walking on that road for a while, I finally came to a flickering light post. However, as I stood under it, it stopped flickering and I had a moment of ease and warmth, even though my journey there and, most likely forward, were unsettling. In a flash, the lamp post turned off, and for the first time, I heard the rumble of a car pulling up beside me. I look into the passenger’s side and notice that no one is in the driver’s seat. But, most importantly, there was a man in the passenger’s seat staring at me, his hand gripping the window sill. However, he didn’t have any eyes, he didn’t have a mouth, and he was completely white. Then, I would wake up.
The most difficult part of my midterm piece was actually coming up with the grid system that I would use to divide it. At first, I was going to make the borders of the grid obvious, which would divide the piece into individual sections. However, I instead decided to use the metal structure in the middle of the still life to divide my paper. I then figured out my composition in a way that would allow for a harmonious dynamic throughout the work, and then I came to the realization that my midterm was not as divided as I had hoped. To resolve this problem, I downsized the size of the midterm into a rectangle, and with the remaining space, I created a border in which the subjects of my piece would be blacked out.
I believe that my usage of negative and positive space could have been improved, but my strongest usage of this was with the ropes and their border counterparts. The contrast of the undefined ropes and the solid color of the border added a strong contrast that I believe was needed in the piece. Also, my usage of pen ink in the flowers provided an aesthetically pleasing difference in the negative and positive space within and around it. Speaking of contrast, I believe that the shading of the bird and the rock formation was too similar to the point where they almost began to blend together. If I could do the project again, I definitely would have lightened the bird so that the contrast between it and the rock was more drastic.
In my midterm, I made the background black with the usage of India ink. I was initially not going to do this, but I believe that that choice was what ended up making this piece so successful. The only other place I used India ink was in the metal structures; I diluted the ink with water so that the solid color didn’t get lost in the background. As I said before, the flowers were done with a pen, but every other aspect was done with the other black and white materials in my kit. The lightbulb and the bird were done in graphite, although I added charcoal to the bird in some spots to increase the contrast. The cow skull and rock formation were both done in charcoal, charcoal pencils, black conté, and vine charcoal. The nest of the bird utilized a technique I used in my six small drawings assignment— I blacked out the shape with Sharpie and then added in detail with the white conté over it. Although I am fairly comfortable with these materials, the paper that I was working on made it feel as if I was using them anew. I came to like the paper later on, but figuring out how to manipulate the paper into properly doing transition values was challenging.
Throughout my pieces, charcoal was the main media used since it is the one I am most comfortable with. The black conté stick was also used with charcoal, and the heaviest concentration of these media is found in my cow skull drawing. Every form of graphite in the kit was used lightly throughout each piece. The heaviest concentration of their use is in the blind contour drawing, where I utilized them to shade by cross-hatching. Sharpie was used in two of my backgrounds, in the outlines of the blind contour drawing, and to block in the shapes in order to shade over them with the white conté stick.
Blind contour is a method that I am fairly comfortable with, so I paired it with the media that I am the most uncomfortable with. The drawing of the shelf with a ball-like form on top was initially created utilizing the subtractive method; although I ended up going over the focal point of the piece with charcoal. The wires in the background were kept the same way I initially made them. The piece with white conté on top of Sharpie was a challenge for me because I had never used that technique before, but I am satisfied with the way I executed it. The glass vase in this drawing was fairly difficult, but I believe that my use of values allowed me to properly translate the vase onto paper.
My strongest piece was my skull drawing, not just because it was the one I spent the most time on, but because my highlights and values are pronounced and are distinguished from one another. Not only that, but the high contrast of the black in the background allows for the foreground figure to become the focal point of the piece. My weakest work was the piece in which the vases are on the left of the composition because my intent for the piece had not been executed the way I expected, which was to be realistic. This is one way in which I need to grow as an artist; I need to learn to manipulate what I have to make something new, not just to manipulate what I have into what I wanted. Another way I need to grow as an artist is to become more comfortable with graphite because in my experience with the blind contour drawing, it was a nice media to use but I wasn’t comfortable enough to use it that much more in other pieces.
My top five strengths according to my StrengthsFinder results are empathy, individualization, developer, ideation, and restorative. Of the five strengths identified in my report, empathy is the one that I would like for others to see the most in me. Empathy is one that I put a lot of emphasis on because it was what my mother’s lessons to me as a child usually consisted of. My mother raised me to be compassionate and generous to those who were worse off. For example, my mother always encouraged me to help those who were being bullied— to be their friend if I could so that they weren’t alone. These lessons have shaped the way I am now, and those who know me would, without a doubt, say that it’s not a surprise that empathy is at the top of that list. My work style is based on working hard but making sure that everyone is content with either their work or with the project as a whole. That’s why, in a group, I’m often the one bringing the group together, because I’m in tune with everyone’s emotions. Although empathy might not be the first quality one might look at when considering leadership, it allows me to see and fulfill the needs of those around me.