When The Advocate last brought you photos from Rhys Harper's stunning project Transcending Gender, the trans Little Rock, Ark.-based photographer was just at the beginning of a journey that would take him across America.
Harper's ambitious plan started with an unassuming commission for a local art gallery, but the artist immediately saw potential for more. He began fundraising for travel,and in the meantime released a series of black-and-white portraits that made waves as soon as they saw light.
His concept — to draw on environment, props, and body language to express each subject’s personality and accomplishments, rather than focus on their body — is simple yet powerful and resonates with a growing trend in art that seeks to humanize and destigmatize trans subjects while also emphasizing their diversity.
Now Harper, 31, is back with a new series of color portraits, striking in not only their continued emphasis on a range of subjects and spaces, but in their dedication to crafting warm, arresting images. And luckily, Harper only plans to continue traveling, taking pictures, and telling more stories with the continued support of Indiegogo fundraising and the thousands of fans he's gathered.
Check out the photos below, accompanied by captions from Harper, and check out his ongoing work (including how you can apply to be photographed) here.
Photographed in Salt Lake City
Aiden is a taxidermist and Native American two-spirit tribal artist who lives in Boise, Idaho. He also loves cars, specifically, his Gambit-themed Mustang that he has been customizing for the past few years. He says one of the most defining moments in his life has been the death of his close friend, whom he lost to suicide — he gave him the courage to live life and find the happiness everyone deserves. He also loves things that are imperfectly perfect. He is pictured here in his Native regalia, which he wears for special occasions and powwow dances.
Photographed in Little Rock, Ark.
Andrea is an activist and cartographer who lives in Little Rock. She was just featured in the Arkansas Times. She is also a stilt walker, as seen in this photograph.
Photographed in Catoosa, Okla.
Arin is an Oklahoma teen who just published his first novel, Some Assembly Required. He is currently attending college in Oklahoma and plans to have a career in the outdoors.
Photographed in Leflore, Okla.
Chris is a country boy living in Oklahoma. He works as an EMT dispatcher, but when he isn’t working he is riding four-wheelers, hunting, and getting muddy out in the backwoods of Oklahoma. He also is passionate about gun safety and wants to get his gunsmith license in the future.