Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2016-02-10
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Trans artist Flo McGarrell killed in Haiti quake
by Micki Leventhal
2010-01-27

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


Flo McGarrell, an internationally recognized multidisciplinary art activist and transgender person, died Jan. 12 in the collapse of the Peace of Mind Hotel in Jacmel, Haiti, an arts community about 20 miles south of Port-Au-Prince.

McGarrell was visiting with his friend, Chicago artist Susan Frame. Frame was in Haiti to build a woodworking studio at Fanal Otantik Sant D'A Jakmel ( FOSAJ ) , an art center where McGarrell served as director.

When the earthquake struck Frame ran out of the building; McGarrell paused to retrieve his computer.

McGarrell earned his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago ( SAIC ) in 2004. "There are some students you recall clearly because they open up so many ideas around cultural meaning," said Lisa Wainwright, interim dean of faculty. "I distinctly remember [ his ] resolve, exquisite sense of craft, humanist impulse, and adventurous spirit. [ He made ] compelling work and was a great student who became an even greater member of our global arts community."

Flores McGarrell was born female Aug. 31, 1974 in Rome, Italy, to artists James and Ann McGarrell. The family moved to St. Louis, Mo., when McGarrell was eight, and then to Newbury, Vt., in 1993.

"I am extremely lucky to have an amazingly supportive family who puts up with all my crazy schemes," said McGarrell in a 2009 interview with art21. "This is where all my freedom really comes from. This is why I have the freedom to go work with people who are not so free at all…"

As a student at Maryland Institute College of Art ( MICA ) , McGarrell "was quite involved with social justice [ and ] … pushed the boundaries … in terms of gender issues, poverty issues," recalled fiber-arts professor Annet Couwenberg. "Flo wanted to build a better life for people. Inclusiveness and generosity were a given for him."

McGarrell's interest in the art and culture of Haiti took root at age 11 when his mother took him to see Maya Deren's film Divine Horsemen, a documentary on Haitian Vodou ceremonies, and The Sacred Arts of Haiti exhibition co-curated by anthropologist Marilyn Houlberg, who later became his mentor and friend at SAIC.

McGarrell's artistic legacy ranges from performance, film, digital and video to large-scale sculptural installations. In 2007 he did an arts residency at Roswell, N.M., developing experiments in sustainable living as sculpture. This work culminated in the form he described as "Agrisculpture" which has food production as its primary goal. His commitment to sustainable art met his interest in Haiti and set the course for his life's work.

"Flo's interest in the culture of Haiti had much to do with the interactive nature of the Vodou religion," said Marilyn Houlberg, who had been with him in Porta-Au-Prince Jan. 10, talking about plans for an art exhibition for Mardi Gras. "But his thing was not anthropological research. He used his art to work on economic development. The arts of Haiti are what bring tourists down there. Flo was promoting and supporting the interests of the artists of Haiti, as well as making sure they had food and essentials. He was so generous; he became part of the culture." Houlberg, who was airlifted out of Haiti and arrived in Chicago Jan. 22, also spoke eloquently about the devastation and the sincerity of rescue and relief efforts. "But," she said, "there are too many photographers and not enough food."

"The first thing Flo did when he took over the directorship of FOSAJ [ in 2008 ] was to plant a garden," said his mother, Ann McGarrell. "He'd gone there earlier as a visiting artist and took along a suitcase of Cliff bars and granola bars. All the artists and staff ate them and said, 'Monsieur Flo, these are really good but what we need are art supplies because we can always eat sand.'

"When he went back he took seeds. Stuff just shot up and they were getting lovely vegetables to go with the beans and rice and the bits of seafood." Other FOSAJ art projects, made with found materials, include a sculptural rain-barrel shower, water-purification system, bicycle-powered washing machine and parabolic oven.

"Flo was truly and genuinely inter-categorical, outrageous, fun and irreverent," said friend Kathy Smith, a Ph.D. candidate in world arts and culture at UCLA. "He lived his life between boundaries in a very authentic way."

McGarrell's gender transitioning began about six years ago with hormone therapy. "He was very pleased by his dashing little beard," said his mother.

"As a young art student at MICA, Flo—still Flora then—told me that she had just realized that all her work was about metamorphosis … as in the classical myths of a girl who becomes a tree or stream or flower. So, for a mortal to change genders while remaining in the human species did not, after all, seem such an enormous leap. ... [ Now ] he has undergone metamorphosis, shed what was mortal, emerged as a solely spirit, like the ones that Haitians recognize as inhabiting every stone and tree."

McGarrell spent the holidays in Vermont with his family, returning to Haiti shortly after the New Year. "This is the worst thing, just horrible," said his mother, "But how fortunate we were to have had this remarkable creature for 35 years."

Images of McGarrell's work and curriculum vitae are at homepage.mac.com/gowithflo; and visit the ongoing online memorial to McGarrell at wearegoingwithflo.blogspot.com . The full art21 interview with McGarrell is at blog.art21.org/2009/08/28/inside-the-artists-studio-flo-mcgarrell.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email




Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Studies show positive psychological effects of hormones for trans individuals 2016-02-11
Harris files trans-related birth certificate bill in Illinois House 2016-02-11
South Dakota may be first state to make law attacking transgender children 2016-02-10
Argentinian trans activist dies 2016-02-10
NUNN ON ONE: TELEVISION Amy Landecker lands dream job on 'Transparent' 2016-02-10
Upcoming: Patricia Racette in 'Humaine'; sexual-assault exhibit; Trans exhibit 2016-02-10
GLAAD Award nods announced 2016-02-10
Girl Scout turns anti-trans incident into cookie sale success 2016-02-07
Police kill trans man in Arizona 2016-02-07
Panel on homelessness and survival sex Feb. 10 2016-02-03
First trans murder of 2016 in Texas 2016-02-03
Report: Trans youth more likely to have Asperger's 2016-02-03
Trans woman who served years in jail without trial launches fundraiser 2016-02-03
Rush Center first to provide trans health-care benefits 2016-02-03
Defense Department proposes rule change to give medical benefits to transgender troops 2016-02-01
Pritzker chairing Equality Illinois gala 2016-01-27
BOOKS Photography book looks at trans life in Cuba 2016-01-27
Gay athlete has figure-skating win; trans Olympians 2016-01-27
Entertainment: Caitlyn memoir; Idris Elba; Christian Bale; Jillian Michaels 2016-01-26
World: Russian pro-LGBT move; anti-trans incidents; Biden in Switzerland 2016-01-26
Creating Change panel addresses Black Feminism 2016-01-25
Creating Change plenary addresses HIV/AIDS in trans women, Black men 2016-01-25
Olympics changing policy for trans athletes 2016-01-25
Groups issue statement criticizing anti-trans restroom measure 2016-01-22
Suburban legislator files Illinois restroom access bill 2016-01-20
Trans student gets locker-room access; Trans-military ban decision expected 2016-01-20
Theater submissions sought for [Trans]formation 2016-01-20
Web series aims to tell realistic trans experiences 2016-01-20
World news: Chelsea Manning exhibit; Vietnam and marriage; 'Danish Girl' banned 2016-01-19
National roundup: Murderer sentenced; Eric Fanning; Montana's pro-LGBT move 2016-01-19
Chicago Restroom Access Project seeks input on designs 2016-01-18
Chicago Restroom Access Project seeks input on designs 2016-01-18
Suburban district grants locker room access to trans student 2016-01-16
Michigan murderer sentenced to 30-60 years 2016-01-15
Rush first in state to offer coverage for transgender health services 2016-01-15
Report on trans, non-trans veterans; Prison changes; Anti-choice protest 2016-01-13
Recap: Brief on anti-trans law; Gay media; Tutu's daughter; Chamber partnership 2016-01-13
Legendary Baton performer Mimi Marks saying farewell 2016-01-13
Submissions sought for trans work 2016-01-13
TELEVISION It's simply the 'Dress' for Chicagoan Precious Davis 2016-01-12
 



Copyright © 2016 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Sponsor

About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.