Please visit the Fall 2012 class website project at Queer Arts Los Angeles Website.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rosie V.A. - Cathy Opie

The artist I've chosen is photographer Cathy Opie, because we looked at some of her work when I took photography courses at UCLA, specifically her portraits, which I absolutely loved. She has also done work of the streets and freeways in Los Angeles. She is currently a photography professor at UCLA. She was born in Ohio and moved to San Francisco to study photography when she was 18. She moved to Los Angeles in 1989 and worked as a lab technician at UC Irvine until 1994. As her work became more well known, she started working as a photographer teacher at different universities until she accepted a tenured professorship at UCLA. The Guggenheim describer her work as follows - "Since the early 1990s, Catherine Opie has produced a complex body of photographic work, creating series of images that explore notions of communal, sexual, and cultural identity. From her early portraits of queer subcultures to her expansive urban landscapes, Opie has offered profound insights into the conditions in which communities form and the terms in which they are defined. All the while she has maintained a strict formal rigor, working in lush and provocative color as well as richly toned black and white. Influenced by social documentary photographers such as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and August Sander, Opie underscores and elevates the poignant yet unsettling veracity of her subjects."

1 comment:

  1. I have always been fascinated by Catherine Opie’s early work, since reading about her queer portraits in the book "Female Masculinity" by Judith Jack Halberstam. Halberstam writes, “Opie’s insistence that her portraits ‘stare back’ creates an interesting power dynamic between both photographer and model, but also between image and spectator. The power of the gaze in an Opie portrait always and literally rests with the image: the perpetual stare challenges the spectator’s own sense of gender congruity, and even self, and it does indeed replicate with a difference the hostile stares that the model probably faces every day in the street” (Halberstam 35). The power of the gaze is extremely important to Opie and it is very visible in her portraits. The gender non-conformance of many of Opie’s subjects, would most likely lead to hostile stares in the street. Opie grants her queer subjects the humanity many would deny them. In many ways, Opie queers the concept of the gaze by having her subjects stare back. Opie’s bold portraits are a humanized look at queer subjects, something that is still noteworthy.