A public garden & cultural center

Kris Grey

Outcasts: Women in the Wilderness
Glyndor Gallery | April 8–July 9, 2017

Pictured above:
Greenhouse from Procession series, 2017
Digital C-print
Courtesy of the artist,
In collaboration with Maya Ciarrocchi

A genderqueer artist, Kris Grey uses the body as an object and for display as demonstrated in Procession, filmed at Wave Hill, and presented in Outcasts as a video and as portrait photographs.  The subject is Jean Carroll (1910–69), the bearded (and later tattooed) lady in the Coney Island sideshow.

Grey states, “Procession is performed in solidarity with those who make a body and life of their own design amid social pressures to normalize, assimilate and conform.” Jean Carroll gained economic independence performing on the margins. Although she developed a mutual affection for John Carson, a caller in the sideshow, Carson refused to entertain an intimate relationship because of Carroll’s beard. After years of internal conflict, she undertook electrolysis to remove her beard and commissioned more than 700 intricate tattoos to cover her body; she transformed herself from Bearded Lady to Tattooed Lady. Won over by her transition, Carson decided to marry Carroll. Although Carroll’s transition could be interpreted as conforming to gendered expectations for the female body, it can also be seen as a radical rejection of the standards of femininity for the time.

According to Grey, “In approaching the theme of this show, I explore the orientation of the outcast as both a position of the margins and one of great possibility and power.” Rejecting adherence to a gender binary, Grey crafts a defiant body. “Rather than transitioning from one sex to its presumed opposite, I am a self-designed hybrid who occupies a position outside of the binary.” The artist is drawn to Nancy Spero’s “figurative and symbolic lexicon. Her repeating figures and forms, especially images of women across history and cultures, have inspired me to look to the past for alternative narratives of transition and self-fashioned outcasts, hidden from history.”

Kris Grey is a genderqueer artist whose work exists at the intersection of communication, activism, community building, storytelling, lecture and studio production in two-dimensional, Three-dimensional and time-based media. Procession was originally performed at the Pop Up Museum of Queer History, Brooklyn, in 2013, and then at Art in Odd Places, Manhattan, in 2014. An active performer and exhibitor, Grey has participated in Women’s Work: Masculinity and Gender in Contemporary Fiber Art, San Diego Art Institute, CA; Queering the BibliObject, Center for Book Arts, NY; Untitled, Just Like A Woman, Abrons Art Center, NY; Gender/Power: Composition II, Gibney Dance Center, New York; Body Dialectic, City of Women, Ljublijana, Slovenia. Grey has received grants from Franklin Furnace and has participated in residencies at LMCC Process Space, Baryshnikov Art Center and Invisible Dog Art Center. Grey earned a BFA from Maryland College of Art and an MFA from Ohio University.

Learn more about the artist here

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Michael J. Shannon; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.