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Press Release

MOWA | DTN Exhibit challenges femininity and self-presentation

Exhibition May 25, 2023

WEST BEND, WISCONSIN) – The Museum of Wisconsin Art (MOWA) presents Anna: Photography by Lidia Sharapova.  On Thursday June 1, 2023 from 6:00-8:00pm, MOWA will host an exhibition party and meet the artist event at MOWA | DTN, the museum’s satellite location inside Saint Kate—The Arts Hotel in downtown Milwaukee.

A random meeting at a protest march in 2020 led to an ongoing series of photographs of Anna taken over three years. With a focused gaze on the viewer, Anna is not an object to be critiqued, but an active participant in Sharapova’s visual archiving of the struggles, triumphs, and artful existence of a black, transgender woman living in the United States.

“The museum is dedicated to serving and representing all members of our Wisconsin community,” says MOWA Executive Director Laurie Winters. “Sharing Lidia Sharapova’s work is an important part of that mission. Anna’s story is a window into the community of black individuals exploring gender and identity.”

Sharapova highlights both Anna’s public and private life in this vibrant and intimate collection of photography. Anna’s agency over and ownership of her body meld with Sharapova’s careful staging, thoughtful poses, and theatrical lighting to express the intentional construction of Anna’s identity.

“Collaborating with Anna on this project has significantly influenced my photography style,” says Sharapova. “I combine elements of documentary photography with staged narratives, creating a post-documentary approach that blurs the line between reality and artistry.”

Like her subject, Sharapova has carefully and deliberately crafted her place in the world. After fleeing Siberia, she moved alone to the United States in 2013. Today, she works in Milwaukee as a photographer and videographer.

Sharapova explores and challenges cultural perceptions of conventions and unwritten rules of femininity and gender identity through her honest and warm portrayal of a human being who defies traditional ideals of womanhood and personhood. Sharapova focuses on documenting issues of social identity, gender, race, and the complexities of small communities that reveal our common humanity.

“Through photography, my aim is to capture the unique experiences and perspectives of individuals, with a particular focus on women and the LGBTQ+ community,” says Sharapova. “I strive to shed light on their stories, empowering them and drawing attention to the social and cultural pressures they encounter.”

MOWA Community Partner Vivent Health says their support for this exhibit lies in a mission to create a more inclusive and accepting world.

“Vivent Health is proud to sponsor this exhibition as the arts are such a transformative force within the LGBTQ+ community, fostering self-expression, promoting understanding, challenging societal norms, building community and advocating for social change,” says Margaret Grebe Lidstone, Chief Development Officer of Vivent Health.  “By amplifying LGBTQ+ voices and experiences, the arts contribute to a more inclusive and accepting world.”

Exhibition sponsor Richard Quadracci of the Windhover Foundation said he is proud to support an exhibit that helps to bridge the gap in understanding between the general public and the LGBTQ+ community.

“The timing of this exhibit coincides with a poignant moment in LGBTQ+ history. Our community is facing a challenge to our fundamental right of expression,” says Quadracci. “This exhibit exemplifies just how much we have achieved as we are now emboldened to share more and more of our LGBTQ+ experience. It is through exhibitions like this that the public can learn more about us, not as a letter in an acronym, but as human beings with stories to tell and as artistic works of beauty. I’m proud to support exhibitions such as this as we continue to work towards equality, not as a ‘G’ay person, but as a parent, a husband, a brother, a son, a friend, and a neighbor – just another one of the mosaic of people that make us all Americans.”

Featuring nearly twenty photographs, this is Sharapova’s first museum exhibition. On view April 7–July 9 at MOWA | DTN, the museum’s Milwaukee satellite gallery located inside Saint Kate—The Arts Hotel. This event is free and open to the public. ­


Image credit: Lidia Sharapova, Transit, 2021