1958 - 1996

Born to a Presbyterian minister in Flint MI, Greer Lankton was fascinated by dolls. She began to fashion her own out of a variety of non-traditional materials, including flowers and pipe cleaners. Years of being teased and physically harassed for being a “sissy boy” led her to seek gender confirmation surgery at the age of 21. Greer Lankton headed to New York after completing her studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. Gender and sexuality were recurring themes in her doll art, and her figures captured a distressing glamour that was both grim and seductive. She gained a cult following by showing her work in the East Village – just as the art scene there began to flourish – and became a muse to photographers Nan Goldin, David Wojnarowicz and Peter Hujar. Lankton’s pieces were shown at the Whitney Bienniel and Venice Bienniel in 1995. Her notable style – which blurred the line between folk art and fine art – produced dolls which were ingeniously constructed of soda bottles and umbrella hinges – even pantyhose – some with glass eyes and layered in paint. Her creations were known to change from show to show – often seeming to lose or gain weight, appearing ill, having face lifts or sex changes.  Lankton’s final exhibit – ‘It’s All About Me, Not You’ – featured pink-trimmed turquoise walls, covered with faux niches and shrines to Patty Smith, Candy Darling, Jesus, and the artist herself, in what was a perfect reconstruction of her tiny Chicago studio apartment. The exhibit has since become a permanent installation at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh. After her 1987 marriage to artist Paul Monroe collapsed, Lankton struggled for years with addiction and anorexia. She died of an overdose in 1996.


Gender Female

Sexual Orientation Straight

Gender Identity Transgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Nations Affiliated United States

Era/Epoch Information Age (1970-present) Post-Stonewall Era (1974-1980)

Field(s) of Contribution



Commemorations & Honors

It’s All About Me, Not You a Permanent Installation at Andy Warhol’s Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh

Posthumous Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame Inductee (2017)


Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell