The Movement Kitchen was the
first collaborator to work
with Molly Jae Vaughn on
her project "Project 42" to honor
Paige Clay in 2012.
Project 42 was launched in 2012 and will continue until 42 separate memorial garments and collaborations have been completed. Like the concept of rebirth through dance, the number 42 is a symbolic number that represents the short life expectancy of transgender individuals in the USA. The purpose for selecting this specific age is linked to Vaughn's strong desire to elevate the discussion about the life expectancy of transgender individuals in the USA versus cisgender individuals (even though the number itself is almost impossible to verify) and to add visibility to the role that violence against transgender individuals plays in that life expectancy.
Each piece in the project starts with the creation of a garment that begins as a screen shot capture from Google Earth of a location where a murder of a transgender individual has taken place. This screen shot is then manipulated in Photoshop to create a colourful and abstract pattern that is turned into fabric through digital printing. The fabric is sewn into a garment to be worn by a collaborator based on the measurements and instructions that they provide me with. Each collaborator is given the name and background of the individual that they are representing but Vaughn does not attempt to direct their performance or activity. Some of her collaborators are professional artists who may wish to interpret the project in their movements, while others are volunteers who dance as recreation or whom wish to participate through sharing the types of every day experiences stolen from the murder victims that make up so much of life’s importance.
The project harnesses movement as a vehicle of memorialization and activism. Additionally the idea of “hosting” is explored by each collaborator as a means to return the humanity to the individual represented in the garment whose status as human is stripped first by the action of violence but then often further by police and media treatment of their identity and history. Each volunteer documents their movements through video or photographic means and returns the garment and documentation to me. Information related to the project’s concept is presented with each work as accompanying literature as well as within the titles for each garment. Additionally, the project’s blog, features details about each pattern and the individual it represents, as well as images and video from the project.
💜Visit the Project 42 blog for updates, documentation of performances, and information on the individuals memorialized here: www.42-lost.tumblr.com
💜Watch Molly Jae Vaughn's TEDxSeattle talk on Project 42: Memorializing transgender murder victims through art and performance | Molly Vaughan | TEDxSeattle
💜Watch Molly Jae Vaughn's: Memorializing Trans Lives in "Project 42" at Seattle Art Museum
💜Watch Molly Jae Vaughn's: 42 Garments Honoring 42 Trans Lives Lost to Murder
WEST GARFIELD PARK — Paige Clay was a rising star on the runway in Chicago’s LGBTQ ball scene, a vibrant subculture rooted in drag. Clay, a transgender woman whose legal first name was Marvin, sashayed down the runway in bright-colored, home-made ensembles.
“It came naturally to her,” said Brian Turner, a social worker at Taskforce Community and Prevention Services, where Clay received transgender services. Clay is one of two trans women killed on the city’s West Side this year. Clay was found dead April 16 in an alley in the 4500 block of West Jackson Boulevard with a gunshot wound to the face, according to Chicago police and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
No one has been arrested or charged in the case, according to Chicago police data. It was a brutal end to a life filled with obstacles. Clay had an unstable childhood and faced discrimination when she came out as a transgendered person, Turner said. She didn’t have the support of her mother or father growing up, and became a ward of the state before she turned 11. But Clay found a family when Turner’s aunt became Clay’s foster mom.
Clay also found a home within the transgender community and sought services at Taskforce Community and Prevention Services, an Austin-based organization that provides adolescents with medical and mental health services. Turner said Clay met with therapists, mental health specialists and peer support groups. Clay went through a “serious process” before beginning hormone therapy, which signals the physical transition from male to female, Turner said.
Turner said Clay had been a victim of violence in the past and had faced discrimination. He said Clay was “tough” and unwavering. A motive in her slaying was unknown. “She was outgoing and determined,” Turner said. “But she faced obstacles that shifted her life in a way.”
Project 42: Paige Clay, 4500 West Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL,
Inkjet printed fabric, 39” x 22” x 18”, 2012