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Texas Isaiah in Conversation | with Bearboi, Terrell Brooke, and C. Riley Snorton

L to R: Texas Isaiah, BearBoi,
Terrell Brooke, and C. Riley Snorton.
Courtesy Texas Isaiah, Bearboi, Brooke, and Snorton

Feb 17
12:00pm —
Feb 28, 2022


Artist-in-Residence, Watch & Listen 2022, Conversations & Screenings, Harlem Pride 22 Related Programs

2020–21 artist in residence Texas Isaiah shared digital space with photo sitter and collaborator Bearboi, artist and thought partner Terrell Brooke, and scholar and writer C. Riley Snorton for a conversation that expands the blueprint for a collective archive of Black trans lives. During their time together, the group reflected on the following questions and more: 

  • What does it mean to be an individual with multi-faceted experiences of Black girlhood but who bloomed otherwise? 
  • How do these experiences create a “fixture” for masculinity and gender? 
  • How can our creative work be used as healing mechanisms and dedications to ancestors (who are named and not named?) What does it mean to call ancestors into a space? 
  • What are the many consequences of Black transmasculine visibility? 
  • Are Black transgender people allowed the right to opacity? 
  • How can we define blackness (feminine, masculine, or neither) outside of labor? 
  • In what ways can we honor friendship, communion, multi-dimensionality, and intuition as strategies for authenticity? 


Texas Isaiah in Conversation is presented on the occasion of (Never) As I Was: Studio Museum Artists in Residence 2020–21, held at MoMA PS1 while the Studio Museum constructs a new building on the site of its longtime home on West 125th Street. 

In Conversation: Beloved Transcestors


This is a record of transgender ancestors’ names and life stories that were mentioned and uplifted during Texas Isaiah in Conversation. The term transcestor was coined in 2009 by Lewis Reay.

Participant Bios


Texas Isaiah [he/they] is an award-winning, first-generation North American, visual narrator born in East New York, Brooklyn, and currently residing in Los Angeles. As an autodidact, Texas Isaiah's method prioritizes the endless possibilities of an adequate care system and a more thoughtful and compassionate visual world. In 2020, Texas Isaiah became one of the first trans photographers to photograph a Vogue cover (Janet Mock, Patrisse Cullors, Jesse Williams, and Janaya Future Khan) and a TIME cover (Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union-Wade). He is one of the 2018 grant recipients of Art Matters, a 2019 recipient of the Getty Images: Where We Stand Creative Bursary grant, and a 2020–21 artist in residence at The Studio Museum in Harlem. 

Bearboi (they/xe/he) is a Black trans photographer and visual content creator from Prince George’s County, Maryland and is currently based in Minneapolis. Their personal work predominately celebrates the beauty of everyday life at the intersections of Black queerness, allowing the underrepresented to take up space, be seen, and be heard. 

Terrell Brooke (he/him) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles who works with body movement, sound design/experimentation, and vocal exercise to explore BIPOC queer feminist theory. Terrell’s most recent works, from rhythmic multi-genre sets to abstracted soundscapes, seek to explore notions of resiliency and femme embodiment and to amplify queer narratives. 

C. Riley Snorton is a writer, scholar, and advocate. He is the author of Nobody is Supposed to Know: Black Sexuality on the Down Low (University of Minnesota Press, 2014) and Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity (University of Minnesota Press, 2017). He is also the co-editor of Saturation: Race, Art, and the Circulation of Value (MIT Press, 2020). 



Resources, References & Inspirations 


Please explore the following materials offered by Texas Isaiah and his conversation partners. 

Texas Isaiah on (Intimate) Community

The poignancy of Texas Isaiah’s work lies in his ability to reimagine the healing potential of photography for Black people, particularly Black trans, gender expansive, and nonbinary folks.

(Never) As I Was:
Studio Museum Artists in Residence 2020–21

(Never) As I Was marks the third year of the multiyear partnership between The Studio Museum in Harlem, The Museum of Modern Art, and MoMA PS1, and features new work by the 2020–21 Artist-in

The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Artist-in-Residence program is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts; Joy of Giving Something; Robert Lehman Foundation; New York State Council on the Arts; Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; Jerome Foundation; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; and by endowments established by the Andrea Frank Foundation; the Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Trust; and Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Digital programming is made possible thanks to support provided by the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation’s Frankenthaler Digital Initiative.

Additional support is generously provided by The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.