Ria Brodell Butch Heroes Boxed Set
The meticulously researched and beautifully rendered paintings in Ria Brodell’s ongoing Butch Heroes series depict transgender individuals throughout history. Brodell’s small gouache portraits address issues of gender, sexuality, and spirituality across centuries and geographic locales, and depict queer individuals about whom relatively little is known. As a young non-binary trans person, Brodell (b. 1977, Buffalo, New York) lamented the lack of role models for gender non-conforming and queer people. As an adult, they (Ria’s preferred pronoun) engaged with this issue through the Butch Heroes project, exploring the struggles and successes of queer people. After graduating from Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Brodell began research in 2006 by mining second- and firsthand accounts of the lives of queer people across geography and time. As Brodell states, they chose subjects: “…who were born female bodied, who had documented relationships with women, and whose gender presentation was more masculine than feminine.” The intimate format of the original paintings was inspired by an aunt’s collection of prayer cards, which feature holy figures paired with associated narratives or prayers. This format highlights the figures as exemplars for the LGBTQI community, while retaining the singularity of each individual life. Ria Brodell is an artist and educator currently based in Boston. Brodell attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and received a BFA from the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and an MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts University. Brodell has had solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, is a recipient of an Artadia Award, a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship, and an SMFA Traveling Fellowship. Brodell’s work has appeared in the Guardian, ARTNews, the Boston Globe, New American Paintings, and Art New England, among other publications. This limited edition series of Ria Brodell’s Butch Heroes has been produced in conjunction with the artist by the Davis Museum at Wellesley College. Each card in the set of reproductions includes a biographical narrative and a brief related bibliography, researched and written by the artist. Proceeds from sales of the edition support in part the creation of a fund at the Davis Museum for the acquisition of works by or about the LGBTQI community.