Corey, 22, Non-Binary, They/Them

copper, liver of sulfur patina 8 x 4.5 x 0.5 in 2018

This piece is about my struggles as a non-binary individual and my journey to find my gender identity. It allowed me to work through thoughts and feelings in a physical way. I have struggled greatly with the lack of acceptance in my family and how I am usually gendered as a woman due to my physical appearance. Putting my body on display for viewers is empowering for me; to reaffirm, “This is my body and this is who I am!”

Butterflies are a recognizable sign of change and transition. The metamorphosis from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly feels relatable for me as a trans person. I specifically chose the imagery of the Monarch Butterfly for their striking look and unique migration pattern. Monarchs migrate alone, but, along their journey, they cluster together in trees to rest and for warmth.

I would love to make a collection of pieces like this to showcase the diversity of the trans experience. I want to normalize all trans people in the community, no matter where they are in the spectrum or in their transition. Each person’s journey is unique, yet we have similar struggles and triumphs. We come together for acceptance and support. If you would like to be a model for one of these pieces, or know someone who might, please contact me!

Each part of the sculpture began as a flat piece of copper. The figure, which is a self-portrait, was first drawn on the metal with sharpie. I then went over the linework with chasing to create an outline. The piece was then flipped, and the first round was done with dapping punches to quickly create volume. The figure was then slowly formed with many rounds of chasing and repoussé. The butterfly was created using the same techniques. Both were submerged in liver of sulfur and buffed back. The back piece was cut out of copper, the design based on the butterfly clusters. It was also covered in liver of sulfur and with the dark finish. The tabs which hold the piece together are butterfly wings. They gently caress and support the figure.