April 15 – July 14

Reception: Thursday, April 25, 5-7pm

Location: Chazen Museum of Art, 800 University Ave, Madison, WI

My mother is a horse. presents paintings, silicone surfaces, prints and sculpture in an exploration of how images and objects serve as catalysts of identity formation. Birk emphasizes t4t (trans for trans), the vital network of transgender solidarity and mutual aid, in an examination of embodiment and relationships. With references to organizing structures such as the grid, minimalist sculpture and queer politics, Birk presents connections between material objects and intangible social networks.

In the installation, Birk uses abstraction in part to symbolize changing human bodies. With repetition, vivid color and malleable materials such as thick paint, molded beeswax and cast silicone, Birk reshapes, combines and mutates images as a metaphor for sculpting oneself. The artist also considers variations on object surface and the parallels in how bodies are presented to the world. Drawing inspiration from trans literature, romantic encounters and horse girl memes, Birk credits these images as playing an important part of forming their own transgender identity.

“Seeing myself in these images changes how I understand my embodiment and expands the web of relationships that forms my identity,” said Birk. “These relationships are a source of strength and comfort. I coat the surface of my body with these images like a protective membrane.”

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a full wall featuring more than 200 silicone cast works. Based on three 11” x 14” paintings, each has been cast 69 times creating multiple yet unique versions of the originals. Birk’s experimental approach with duplication recontextualizes the hierarchical relationship between copy and original. With a focus on intimacy and reciprocity, Birk’s references to the mutable and imperfect casting process speak to elements of ambiguity, surprise and beauty in nature.

“Weaving webs between image, self and community, I want this exhibition to transform my images into an emotional support t4t network,” said Birk.


My mother is a horse