How Do You Hold Yourself




Altered photo, handwoven fabric, paper doily


11" x 17"




My artwork explores identity, gender, and queerness as a transgender, Jewish, and Māori person. I often use objects, colours, materials, cultures, and structures to navigate gender through these lived experiences while attempting to remain connected with others from my communities. Intimacy, self-love, affirmations, transformation, belonging, displacement, dysphoria, and the fluidity of gender all play an essential role in my work. Throughout the making, conversations between myself and others who are gender non-conforming occur and further influence my art as overlapping experiences and personal feelings towards gender in different cultural situations and environments are expressed.  Untitled (Constellations) is an ever-changing installation that explores the fluidity of gender. The embroidery hoops are arranged as a large, delicate constellation. Through the separation of the internal and outer parts of the embroidery hoops that then are connected through pathways and patterns, I consider the hidden and subconscious ways that youth process their environments that later inform their identity. I remove the hoop from its intended use by revealing the inner hoop that is typically hidden behind a fabric, thus disrupting its functionality, and leading the viewer to consider how things can be picked apart to discover how subconscious influences change our presence. This symbolizes how other gender expressions—whether or not they followed Western societal expectations—formed my own. The fabrics are a fluid, unifying material that intertwines these internal and external influences, presenting themselves as a vital part of everyday life. This installation speaks to my experience as a queer person navigating my sense of self that was influenced by my surrounding environments. These environments formed how I achieve self-understanding and outwardly express myself, but I acknowledge how I have mimicked the environment itself in order to fit into a perceived and expected gender binary.    How do you hold yourself presents the transgender body in a protected, censored, and distorted way through textile. The woven fabric becomes an abstracted body beneath with the interwoven pink, white, and blue threads, to create a shroud, swaddle, cocoon, or chrysalis. These are meant to symbolize shelter during transformative phases in life while also recalling the ways that cloth allows for the body to change in appearance. Rebirth, self-love, spirituality, and transformation are called to with the halo doily around the head. The piece considers literal physical transformations, just as some transgender people undergo medical transitioning in order to transform their bodies—and later emerge in a changed form. It also stands in place for the temporal physical alterations that transgender people often do if medical changes are unwanted or unreachable through the use of fabric to disguise and shift the silhouette and form of the body to present the way they identify and thus create gender euphoria. This work reminds viewers of the fabric's power to distort and reimagine the body underneath. 
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About this Artist

Marshall Ransfield

Marshall Ransfield

Marshall Ransfield is an interdisciplinary artist born in New York and raised in New Zealand and New Jersey. He currently resides in Phenix City, AL, and received his BFA with a minor in art history at Columbus State University, in Columbus, GA. His artwork often explores personal narratives around identity, gender, and queerness as a Jewish, Māori, and transgender person. He has exhibited work in Columbus, GA at the Highland Galerie, Artlab, Illges Gallery, Schley Gallery, and the Rankin Gallery. He has also exhibited his work outside of Georgia at the School of Art + Design at Ohio University in Athens, OH, the Fowler-Kellogg Art Center in Chautauqua, NY, and the Erie Art Museum in Erie, PA. 
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