Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today

June 20, 2019 to September 15, 2019

Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today is an exhibition that explores gender identity. It features a variety of works by local, national, and international artists that is authentic, vulnerable, and beautiful. The art in Transamerica/n speaks to themes of family, community, self-discovery, and identity. Artists’ experiences and personal stories are highlighted as part of the McNay’s dual commitment to artistic excellence and community impact.


Transamerica/n
 is the country’s first broad survey of artwork from across North America to explore gender identity as manifest in outward appearance. Transformative, transcendent, and trans-historical, Transamerica/n breaks down conventional boundaries and celebrates a spectrum of gender identity through individual presentation and societal perception. Transamerica/n showcases artists from underrepresented backgrounds in the United States, Mexico, and Canada who are deeply committed to exploring shifting definitions of gender identity and bravely testing the limits of self-expression. 

Some of the artists identify as LGBTQ+, and some do not. All artists present identities created across the gender spectrum. The exhibition also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which served as a catalyst for the modern LGBTQ+ movement in the U.S. and around the world.


This exhibition is a teaching moment, reflecting a part of our global community previously underrepresented at the McNay. Everyone should at some point be able to see themselves, their cultures, their identities, and their passions reflected in our collections and exhibitions. Educating everyone is at the core of our mission: “to engage a diverse community through the discovery and enjoyment of the visual arts." Art museums are safe places for the community to have challenging conversations sparked by and mediated by works of art. As a result of such conversations, we can develop understanding and appreciation for different perspectives.


Presented in tandem with Andy Warhol: Portraits, Transamerica/n focuses on generational shifts from the 1970s to today, with content spanning fine art, popular culture, and commercial culture. The exhibition includes a diverse range of artists—many from the San Antonio community—working across mediums. Included in the exhibition are photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe and Catherine Opie, figurative sculptures by Greer Lankton and Frank Benson, and installations by Xavier Schipani and Jacolby Satterwhite. Eschewing chronology in favor of thematic explorations, Transamerica/n focuses on narratives both personal and shared.


Commissioned works by emerging Latinx artists are a particular focus, reflecting San Antonio’s Hispanic majority and our close proximity to the US-Mexico border. Through the diverse range of artworks and programs presented, Transamerica/n seeks to establish the Museum as a safe community center where all visitors can be their authentic selves, be inspired to dream and grow, make sense of the world, and find their special place in it. Transamerica/n is an open dialogue that raises awareness about relevant topics, presents new ways of experiencing art, and cultivates belonging within our community. Our vision is to help people experience transformation through art. This exhibition helps us do that better.

Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today is organized by the McNay Art Museum and conceived by René Paul Barilleaux, Head of Curatorial Affairs; and is organized with Jackie Edwards, Assistant Curator; Bianca Alvarez, 2017-2018 Semmes Foundation Intern in Museum Studies; and Lauren Thompson, 2018-2019 Semmes Foundation Intern in Museum Studies.

The McNay would like to give special thanks to the exhibition’s Lead Sponsor, the Ford Foundation, for a grant of $200,000. Across eight decades, the Foundation’s mission has been to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. We are grateful for the support of an organization that invests in innovative ideas, visionary individuals, and frontline institutions advancing human dignity around the world.

The McNay is proud to announce a major $175,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity Appearance Today. Each year, the Henry Luce Foundation’s American Art Program supports exhibitions that are anticipated to make significant contributions to the public and scholarly understanding and experience of the United States. Chosen from a highly competitive pool of applicants, the McNay is one of 14 museums across the country to receive funding from this year’s competition.Lead funding is most generously provided by the Ford Foundation.


Additional support is provided by Metropolitan Methodist Hospital and the Host Committee, chaired by Dr. Carlos E. Alvarez-Meraz.

Join us for an Information Session on June 6 at 6:30 p.m. in the Chiego Lecture Hall to learn more about this exhibition.The session will feature a brief presentation from the exhibition curators, followed by an open Q&A opportunity with a panel of McNay staff and community members. This event is free and open to the public.


Members-Only Preview Event Details


Preview Reception
Wednesday, June 19, 2019 - 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

FREE. For Members only. Join us for our McNay Members Preview celebrating the opening of Andy Warhol: Portraits and Transamerica/n: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today. This event features a live performance by Jose Villalobos, food, drinks and more.

Patron Gallery Talk

Wednesday, July 31, 2019 - 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM

For Members of the Patron Circle and Visionary Circle. Patrons are invited to a cocktail reception and private tour of the special exhibitions. Must present a Member ID.


Not a member? Join here.


Image: Carlos Betancourt, Totem for Light I(Carlos)
, 2009. Digital print. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Museum purchase with funds from Barbara and Harvey Goldstein. © 2019 Carlos Betancourt