Miraculous and Terrifying
Miraculous and Terrifying uses the werewolf as a symbol for gender transition, exploring the act of becoming male as a spiritual and primal phenomenon. The werewolf transforms in a distinctly masculine way - by growing bigger, more muscular, hairier - and this mirrors the process of using testosterone to masculinize the body. As a half-man, half-animal, the werewolf connects to a primal aspect of human nature.
Undergoing a gender transition can feel like going backwards in time - regaining control over one’s body after years spent in dysphoric limbo. When I started taking testosterone, my life began again. As my transition continues, my old body dies and I am reborn, fully-formed into manhood.
This body of work was the culmination of my BFA senior thesis at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Miraculous and Terrifying aims to subvert pulpy, pop cultural werewolf narratives that unite the masculine image of the werewolf with violence, monstrosity, and suffering. Instead, I drew inspiration from the history of Olmec "were-jaguar" imagery, which uses half-human, half-animal forms in moments of mid-transformation to embody limitless potential and defy essentialist categories of identity. A key source for my creative research is Reconsidering Olmec Visual Culture: The Unborn, Women, and Creation by Carolyn Tate (University of Texas Press, 2012).