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LOVING YOU: DOCUMENTING KIA LOPEZ AND CHELLA MAN
EXHIBITION TO DEBUT AT DENVER’S UNION HALL ON MAY 14
Performance Piece by Denver-Born, Emerging Photographer MaryV Brings Visibility for Transgender, Non-Binary, and Gender Non-Conforming People to Mainstream Space
(Denver, Colo.) – May 4, 2021 – Union Hall, the non-profit arts exhibition space located inside The Coloradan in downtown Denver, announced today that it will debut Loving You: Documenting Kia Lopez and Chella Man, a solo exhibition by Denver-born photographer MaryV that documents the lives and transitions of two of her loved ones. The limited-run exhibition will be on display to the public from Friday, May 14 through Saturday, July 10, 2021.
Loving You consists of analog photography from two ongoing bodies of MaryV’s work, including images created as early as 2014. These bodies of work document the transitions of Kia Lopez (she/her), MaryV’s childhood friend, and Chella Man (he/him), her partner of over four years. Shared in this exhibition with Kia and Chella’s consent, the images depict some of their most deeply personal moments – their beauty, their changing bodies, their resilience, biological and chosen families, and their pain, triumphs, and growth.
“I photograph people to honor them” said MaryV.
MaryV is a 23-year-old queer femme photographer and performance artist based in Brooklyn, New York. Born and raised in Denver, Union Hall is thrilled to share MaryV’s first solo exhibition outside New York City. With a uniquely sensitive approach to her subjects, MaryV focuses on the documentation of self-identity, bodies, intimacy, compassion, relationships, sexuality, and self-love.
“Union Hall is honored to welcome MaryV and to provide a platform as she introduces Loving You to the Denver community,” said Emma Perez Steuer, Executive Director of Union Hall. “Debuting just in time for Denver PrideFest, we invite the community to open their minds to experiences outside of their own and find solace in this space.”
Loving You includes a performance art piece conceptualized by MaryV as an act of solidarity. During the opening night of the exhibition MaryV will perform standing naked within a sculptural mirrored structure, in power, allegiance, and understanding; with, respect, love and support, for not only her subjects, but with the entire LGBTQIA+ community. Visitors will be welcome one at a time to spend 30 seconds in socially distanced silence with MaryV inside the performance box, where mirrors on the walls inside provide a literal experience of reflection. Through this shared experience, she invites the viewer to analyze their own preconceived perceptions of nudity, vulnerability, and power.
With Loving You, MaryV aims to open a window to aspects of queer culture that cisgender and heterosexual people do not often see. The photographs she captures range from moments of boundless joy, such as Kia and her friends laughing as they strut the streets in full drag looks, to moments of physical pain, such as Chella’s bandages being removed post-top surgery.
Of the choice to share these intimate images of her loved ones at their most vulnerable, including medical and surgical transitions, MaryV says, “As a photographer, I am constantly trying to find the balance of where and how I can share my images so that they are viewed with understanding. I want the viewer to see them with a sensitive gaze. This is the only gaze that is acceptable to me. My hope is that this gaze can then be taken from the gallery into the real world. I want this gaze to be present when seeing trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people. If you absorb anything from viewing my work, please consider the invitation and opportunity to participate in continued conversations about seeing people, especially those in the queer community, through a sensitive gaze.”
Union Hall is open to the public every Wednesday through Saturday from 12:00pm to 6:00 pm. Opening receptions for Loving You and live performances by MaryV will take place on May 14 & 15 from 6:00pm to 9:00pm with an additional live performance on May 22 at 6:00pm. Registration is required at https://unionhalldenver.org/
All events are free and open to the public. During opening night and throughout the run of show, all forms of photography or documentation will be strictly prohibited in order to encourage viewers to acknowledge the depth and sensitivity of the moments depicted.
About Union Hall
Union Hall is a true cultural community partner aiming to advance opportunities for emerging artists and creatives in its nonprofit arts exhibition space located on the ground level of The Coloradan in Denver’s Union Station neighborhood. This 1,800-square-foot flexible and multi-purpose space provides a platform for Coloradan residents, Denver locals and visitors alike to engage in enriching and educational creative experiences and serves the neighborhood as a community-focused arts space and culture concierge. Union Hall welcomes all ages, ethnicities, genders and sexual orientations. Learn more at www.unionhalldenver.org.
MaryV Benoit (she/her) is a 23-year-old photographer and performance artist based in Brooklyn, New York. Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, she attended Denver School for the Arts and Parsons, The New School’s photography program in New York City. With a uniquely sensitive approach to her subjects, MaryV focuses on the documentation of self-identity, bodies, intimacy, compassion, relationships, sexuality, and self-love. MaryV has succeeded in advocating for herself through modeling, acting, performance art, as a well-known influencer on social media, and a professional image maker. She has appeared on the cover of The New York Times with her partner, artist and activist Chella Man. She had her first solo show gallery at the age of 19 at Space 776 in Brooklyn, New York, displaying her Gold Seriesand Gold Performance. She created and directed Standing Performance in Washington Square Park, representing and recognizing queer individuals that have been executed for their sexuality, or are unable to come out safely. She has shot campaigns for clients such as Calvin Klein and Google, remaining true to her mission of creating mindful and inclusive representation for her community. More information on MaryV and Loving You can be found here.