A freshman at the Rhode Island School of Design, Staradumsky has been drawing, painting and sketching Andy, and representing him in comic strips, for at least half a dozen years. This marks her first multidimensional representation of her friend.
The open-ended project allowed use of any kind of material. Heather chose to modify her set of six Russian wooden nesting dolls, “that can hide within each other like camouflage.”
She painted the smallest doll with XX chromosomes, to show Andy was born as a girl, “which does not match his true mind or identity.” In the next representation, “he’s a toddler. He has long hair and he’s wearing a dress.” The third doll “still has long hair, but he’s wearing more gender-neutral clothes — a T-shirt and some jeans. The T-shirt is blue. He’s shown as stepping away from identifying as a girl.”
THE PROVIDENCE JOURNAL / KRIS CRAIG
Andy hugs his best friend, Heather Staradumsky, after she presented him with one of his favorite desserts while visiting him at home in Warwick.
The fourth doll has short hair, and she has depicted Andy “as nude but covering up his feminine parts. In that one, I wanted to kind of represent the full realization of how his body looks, so it doesn’t fit his identity at all,” Heather says.
The fifth doll’s hair “is even shorter than the one before. He has facial hair, and is wearing the binder [around his breasts].” The doll “can also be interpreted as having gone through top surgery — to signify there have been changes made to fit the identity. He’s also wearing boxer shorts.”
And finally, the outermost doll “is really just like what he looks like now — the ties, the somewhat dressed-up clothes. It’s just him as he is, in full realization.”
Heather says she painted the Trans flag and the male symbol inside the nest of dolls, to show he was a boy all along. “As it refers to my assignment, the camouflage was how the individual was forced to portray his body to fit with society.”
She says, “I got a really good crit [critique] for it.”
I LOVE THIS.