Transgender artist, Tay Cha, inspires students at art talk

Art, according to Taylor “Tay” Cha ‘07, “enables me to connect with people in a powerful and meaningful way.”

Tay Cha is a Korean born artist whose work consists of drawings, paintings, prints and comics. Cha is inspired by underground subcultures such as skateboarding and graffiti.

On Wednesday, March 28, Cha visited campus for an artist talk and visited the studio art course Queer Graphix, taught by Professor Ronald Abram, the chair of the studio art department at Denison.

During the class, Cha worked with students to create a one page comic, giving them advice and teaching them about the ins and outs of comic book writing and drawing. His talk examined and reflected on the personal changes he went through while at Denison and the expression of those changes through artmaking.

“I was the first out transgender student at Denison. The first art class I took was Ron Abram’s Contemporary Comics.  That class has had a profound affect on my work and was a huge help in my working through my gender identity transition at Denison.  I told my story as a transgender man in my autobiographical comics and then showed the comics and art films in several presentations sponsored by Outlook.  Going through such a personal transition as a student was tough, but while my parents were coping with all that I found surrogate parents in the form of my professors. At Denison, there really weren’t any barriers between the students and professors. I had close relationships with a number of my professors and still keep in touch with them twelve years later,” said Cha.

In Cha’s earlier work, he examined masculinity and the growing up process from boyhood to adulthood. Cha produced a large number of abstract paintings capturing the spirit and energy surging through his body throughout his life.

“Making art allows me to have a voice and an outlet to express my emotions about my life experiences. Art is so subjective and the viewers might not always get the message that I had intended for my work but that’s what’s so interesting about art,” said Cha. “I would invite various interpretations because it allows me to think in different ways. And therefore that might impact my work further.”

Taylor Cha graduated with an MFA from The University of Pennsylvania in 2010. There, he received The Lawrence Shprintz Master of Fine Arts Award given to a student for outstanding performance in any medium. Cha has exhibited in solo and group shows in Ohio, Philadelphia and New York. His most recent participation was a solo show in 2016 entitled “Two Worlds” from January to February at Montgomery Row in Rhinebeck, New York. Cha grew up in Long Island, New York and he currently resides in the Hudson Valley.

Cha reflects on his experiences with art:“I feel blessed that I can put so much of myself and what I’m feeling into a work of art and that my viewers can feel a kinship and a connection in the same way.” You can look at more of Cha’s artwork at https://taychamakesart.com/home.html.

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