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Catherine Opie

Artist 29

Catherine Opie “Portraits” Photography

Catherine Opie is an American fine-art photographer. She lives and works in West Adams, Los Angeles.

Opie studies the relationships between mainstream and infrequent society, with a large emphasis on sexual identity, specializing in portraiture, studio, and landscape photography. Through photography Opie documents the connections between the individual and the space inhabited.

She is well known for her portraits exploring the Los Angeles leather-dyke community.

A common social/political theme in her work is the concept of community. Opie has investigated aspects of community, making portraits of many groups including LGBT community.

Opie is interested in how identities are shaped by our surrounding architecture. Her work is informed by her identity as an out lesbian. Her works balance personal and political. Her assertive portraits bring queers to a forefront that is normally silenced by societal norms.

Today’s focus will beck her Portraits series created from 1993 to 1997 that celebrates the bravery of her subjects’ decisions to craft their own identities in the face of restrictive social norms. The series documents this living community, rendering visible an otherwise invisible or misunderstood sector of American culture with characteristic respect and compassion.

I think documenting underrepresented communities back in the 90s must have been difficult with a fear of backlash. In today’s society we have moved away from the strictest stereotypes but ten/fifteen years ago tattoos alone were seen as unprofessional.

In today’s perspective these portraits look like normal people who might be on the hipster scale but being yourself was not always allowed. It’s important to document and represent all communities.

The fact that she withheld the gender of her models and titled the works with their names speak of gender fluidity and giving respect of people disregarded by society at times.


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