Lena Moross’ “For the Love of Carmine”, opening June 11 at MuzeuMM, lets us experience the life of a transgender male through the eyes of an artist whose only focus is the beauty of the human spirit. This installation of paintings and staged video reveals the artist’s own journey of finding a way to voice a narrative, untold for so long.
Lena Moross met Carmine Messina, on the corner of Hollywood Blvd and La Brea Ave. Struck by the older transgender woman’s gentle demeanor and self-possession, Lena introduced herself and began a conversation that has continued for more than three years.
Lena’s large-scale watercolors show the development of an intense dialogue which bears witness to the complex life of a transgender woman, while legitimizing the artist’s ability to transform empathy into the stuff of art.
“I have a never-ending fascination with this man who never professed to be anything special,” says Lena. “It started out as an attraction to a beautiful person, then the story of transgender gradually came out.” Many hours of recorded conversation and video, hundreds of snapshots, paintings and sketches, explore the individual who is Carmine.
Peter Frank writes, “For the Love of Carmine, an ongoing series of portrayals, began when Lena Moross encountered her subject, Carmine Messina, in West Hollywood. Carmine was publicly enacting his pathos with a grace and self-possession that captivated Moross, to the point where the artist resolved to capture the individual and her enactment as a work – or many works – of art. Moross’ style, with its animated line and vivid color, already finds heightened drama in the everyday; faced with a person whose very presence tells numerous stories, the painter set about depicting Carmine in various circumstances, staged and natural – although in Carmine’s case, a staged portrait is as natural as anything.”
Lena Moross was born in St. Petersburg. She studied at the State Academy of Art in Russia. In America, Lena studied at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design as a student of Peter Lyashkov. Lena Moross earned her master’s at Cal-Arts (California Institute of the Arts). She was a student of John Baldessari and John Borofsky.