Wilmington, Delaware – September 27, 2023 – The Mezzanine Gallery, hosted by the Delaware Division of the Arts, is thrilled to showcase the extraordinary work of Wilmington’s very own B. Proud, a distinguished 2023 Master Fellow. Her remarkable exhibition, “Transcending Love,” will grace the gallery’s walls from October 6 to October 27, 2023. “Transcending Love: Portraits of Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Couples and Families” offers an intimate glimpse into the profound relationships of transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming couples throughout the United States. We cordially invite you to join us for a Meet-the-Artist Reception on Friday, October 6, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Proud’s exhibition extends a warm invitation to viewers to perceive her subjects as ordinary individuals with aspirations, dreams, and deep, enduring affection. “These portraits extend an open hand, urging us to look beyond superficialities such as anatomy, sexuality, or gender expression and, instead, peer into the hearts and souls of the subjects themselves,” Proud explains.
Rather than opting for candid snapshots, Proud’s deliberate formality in these portraits serves to honor her subjects in a dignified, heroic manner. Through captions, quotes, and text culled from personal video interviews, viewers gain insight into the fact that one or both subjects in each portrait do not identify as cisgender. The locations for each portrait, meticulously chosen through discussions between the couples and the artist, hold significance and provide viewers with a deeper understanding of the relationships portrayed.
For the LGBTQ+ and transgender communities, visibility stands as a potent form of validation, and Proud’s portraits affirm the subjects’ rightful claim to live authentically as themselves. “In many instances, these couples outwardly present as heterosexual or homosexual, labels conventionally associated with sexual orientation. This visible “normalcy” underscores that the authenticity of gender expression is neither threatening nor confining. These individuals aren’t seeking permission to be themselves; they’re proudly asserting their inherent right to do so,” Proud emphasizes.
B. Proud is a versatile photographer, equally adept in the commercial and fine art realms. Her work has graced solo and group exhibitions worldwide, including a career pinnacle of capturing both President Barack Obama and Lady Gaga on the same day. She holds the position of Adjunct Professor in the Photography Department at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia, and is also a faculty member at the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York.
Proud’s current body of work comprises socially conscious documentary projects with a focus on the LGBTQ+ and transgender communities. “First Comes Love” is a traveling exhibition encompassing photographs, narratives, and videos showcasing enduring LGBTQ+ relationships. When traditional publishers hesitated to take on the project, Barbara took matters into her own hands, self-publishing the stunning coffee table book, “First Comes Love: Portraits of Enduring LGBTQ Relationships,” with a foreword by the iconic Edie Windsor. The book, featuring captivating black & white portraits and stories of 65 couples, has earned two prestigious gold medal awards. “First Comes Love” has graced exhibitions in diverse locations such as New York City, Philadelphia, Delaware, Washington state, Washington, DC, Seattle, Minneapolis, Florida, Berlin, Germany, and Athens, Greece. Additionally, her collaboration on “A Circle of Diamonds,” a film about Edie Windsor’s diamond “engagement” pin, has been featured in over 20 international film festivals.
Proud’s remarkable projects have received funding from esteemed organizations such as the B.W. Bastian Foundation, the Puffin Foundation, The University of the Arts, and the Delaware Division of the Arts, which recently bestowed upon her the coveted Masters Fellowship. Her work has found a place in renowned institutions like the Weeks Gallery in Jamestown, NY, the Delaware Art Museum, Eastman Kodak, the Center for Photography Woodstock, Haverford College, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and numerous private collections.
The Mezzanine Gallery, open on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., is situated on the second floor of the Carvel State Office Building at 820 N. French Street, Wilmington.