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I EXIST: An empowering show celebrating trans people

Art can be a very powerful vehicle to help dispel myths and stigma by encouraging discussion. It has been used throughout history to portray artist’s opinions and viewpoints on a subject and I EXIST is a perfect example of just that.

Opening on the 12th November at the Coastguard studio in Portsmouth, I EXIST is a global arts project addressing the lack of visibility of trans bodies in art, a topic very close to the heart of the artist behind the show – trans artist Mister Samo.

The work created, features trans people at a variety of stages in their social/medical transition and positively reflects the normalisation of trans bodies. The exhibition aims to help educate those with a limited knowledge of the subject and will feature around 50 portraits with accompanying stories, history and context to allow viewers to understand and appreciate that trans bodies can be beautiful regardless of society’s traditional view.

Throughout the course of the week long exhibition there will be informative talks and workshops by various trans people to allow open dialogue on the topic including Mister Samo himself. On Monday 15th November he will be running two creative workshops guiding you through illustration and drawing techniques based on identity through creative expression.

Mister Samo hopes the exhibition will encourage open discussion on the topic of being transgender

“The theme of self love runs through the whole of the exhibition and the project’s goal is to empower as many people as possible especially those in the trans community” explains Mister Samo.

Special guest, Lew Hancox, who is featured in the show as one of the portraits, will be running a comic book workshop and talking about his life on Tuesday 16th November.

Another is Andi Maratos who will be running a 3 hour session on transgender awareness on Wednesday 17th November. The course aims to provide an introduction to terminology, an understanding of the science behind gender identity, the process of transition and the impacts of being transgender on an individual.

We’re a huge fan of Mister Samo, whose work has always been focused on gender transition often using himself as the model. His career is going from strength to strength having painted at several festivals including the 2019 World Pride in New York. He was also awarded artist of the year by Aspex Gallery in Portsmouth for raising visibility and awareness of trans identities through his art and we think his latest exhibition will be a huge success.

In today’s society there needs to be significant change in our attitudes to things that might seem a little ‘different’. Instead of repelling and dismissing, we need to, at the very least, ask questions and educate ourselves. It’s only through knowledge and engaging in conversation that we can begin to understand.

‘I Exist’ runs for from 12th Nov – 19th Nov at the Coastguard Studio in Portsmouth. Visitors are encouraged to book free tickets for the exhibition via https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/d/united-kingdom–portsmouth/i-exist/

Follow Mister Samo on social:




Friday 12 November – Friday 19 November

Coastguard Studio, Montague House, Clarendon Rd, Southsea, Portsmouth, Southsea PO4 0SA

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