Transgression is the name of a work by St John Bosco College, Engadine HSC student Elissa Bell which is showing as part of Artrules 2016 at the Hazelhurst Regional Gallery opening this weekend.
Elissa, 18, is transgender and has used this as the subject of her major art work for her HSC.
She describes the work as layered and chaotic while her teachers describe it as an artwork that needs to be looked at more than once.
The judging panel agreed for the work was selected to exhibit in Artrules 2016 as one of the best HSC artwork from19 students from the St George and Sutherland Shire districts.
Elissa admits her work was produced under the double pressures of a looming deadline and internal feelings.
“I just thought about everything going on about being trans and locked myself in a room and worked on it,” she said.
“It’s not really a positive work. It’s a depressing work. It’s about knowing yourself well enough in modern society and personally because I’ve always been different.
“I kind of know who I am now but being trans can be difficult for other people to understand.
“I fully realised when I was 13 but I didn’t tell Mum until I was 15 and she was the only person who knew.
“Mostly it was fear, particularly living in the shire.
“I was about 16 when I told everyone else.
“Mostly it’s been fine. The real struggle was mainly with myself. For the first two years I was transphobic to myself and with others.
“I thought it may have been easier to man up. I tried but it just put me in a bad headspace.
“It wasn’t my sexuality, it was my gender that was the problem.
“I figured it out as I got older.
“I was surprised that a Catholic school was fine about it.
“I officially transitioned when I was in Year 11 so the ones I may have had problems with had left school.
“Studying art helps me with myself. It’s about getting my reserved, internal feeling onto canvas.”
She was shocked that her work was selected for the Artrules exhibition.
“But anyone who makes anything is always too hard on themselves. You always think it could be better.”
Elissa plans to study graphic art at CATC Design School at Ultimo.
“My ultimate dream would be able to be exhibit my artwork but it really is too early to know for sure if there could be a career path. I just have to take a step at a time, no big leaps.”
Artrules 2016 opens at the Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre on Friday, December 9 and will run until January 22, 2017.