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

Monday, March 28, 2016

Queer Film Summer Sessions Course

LGBTS 183: Queer Film will be offered during UCLA Summer Sessions A. This course will explore the construction of LGBTQIA subjectivities through film, specifically, the films screened during the annual OutFest Queer Film Festival that takes place in Los Angeles within the 6-week period of summer session A; this year, from July 7-17, 2016. We will read about queer cinema, attend film screenings at OutFest, blog about our experiences, and create a final original 3-minute video poem about how sexuality constructs our own subjectivity. As an option, the course will offer a service-learning component to those students who wish to volunteer for OutFest.
About OutFest: Founded by UCLA students in 1982, Outfest is the world’s leading organization that promotes equality by creating, sharing, and protecting LGBT stories on the screen. Outfest builds community by connecting diverse populations to discover, discuss, and celebrate stories of LGBT lives. Over the past three decades, Outfest has showcased thousands of films from around the world, educated and mentored hundreds of emerging filmmakers, and protected more than 36,000 LGBT films and videos. The Outfest UCLA Legacy Project is only program in the world exclusively dedicated to protecting LGBT films for future generations. --From the Outfest website,


Recently I've been thinking a lot about post-grad life. The loss of an identity i've carried with me for my entire life. I will no longer be a student, but will have to redefine myself completely as an adult and with the comes a very heavy load of doubt and fear. I am not a person who likes to fail and does everything in her power to succeed. That is who I was raised to be and that is who I am, but even with that I can't help but feeling like I am about to take a jump into unchartered waters and drown because I'm going to forget how to swim. While I was making this portrait I realized that all these anxieties and self-doubt moments I keep having are myself preparing my mind for the worst, but ultimately I have the final say in what happens to me in the future. The world does not get to dictate how successful I am or am not, only I get to decide that. The first time I read Dr. Seuss's "Oh, the places you'll go" I fell instantly connected to it, I was graduating high school, preparing to start a new chapter of my life and even though I was scared I made it, because here I am four years later ready to graduate with a better grasp of who I am and what I want to do with my life. Every experience I have had and will have will not be happy or successful ones, but I will take them on and come out on top one way or another. So to me this portrait I have created is a reminder and ode to myself that I am going places and though the future may be unknown to me it's coming and I can handle it. I am stronger than I think, smarter than I was, and in order to get where I want I need to let my fears and doubts go and thats exactly what I'll do.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Catherine Opie's "Portraits"

Cathrine Opie's “Portraits" is displayed at the Hammer Museum in it’s own small ovular room. It is separated in what feels like 3 distinct sections. Every image but one felt hyper-visible, with extreme picture quality and a dark background that seemed to bring the focus to the illuminate person in every portrait. The picture above is the only portrait in the collection to show no part of the individual face. Yet, me and a friend where stuck reading the image and her individuality for 10 solid minutes. My friend made the comment that “Her hands become her face” and in that statement I began to read the cues of here hand the way I would read the cues of someones face. The strength and ‘worn’ quality the hands possessed implied an intensity of experience, whether in a literal labor sense of just in active use. Being two dancers looking at a portrait of an assumed woman putting her hair up I suggested she looked like a ballet instructor putting up her hair before a lesson, a story that seemed to justify her strong hands and articulate fingers. It is interesting seeing Opie’s work in this context. The last portrait I saw of Opie’s was in the Whitney Museum in New York City, which is now on exhibit at MOCA. The constructed nature of Catherine Opie's, "Self-Portrait/Cutting," 1993 felt so different from the “Portraits” exhibit at the Hammer. It is interesting how she can build layers in an individual in “Portraits” and yet simultaneously abstract her body to build layers in ideology and message in Self-Portrait/Cutting” show her expansive nature as an artist.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


About a week ago I went to the Hammer to see Catherine Opie's "Portraits" and I was just as amused as I was at her exhibit in MOCA. I really liked the way she captured many very distinct appearances. I saw a vulnerability in the people in the photographs that I don't believe I could have seen if I were to actually see them in person. I really appreciated the dark background because to me it made the person seem as if they were being sucked into a certain darkness. The way the portraits were set up also created an effect for me I feel. The oval shaped frame is different from your usual frame and I feel that that added to the beauty of this exhibit. Also I feel that the artist redefined the idea of a "portrait" due to the fact that even though she does believe these photographs are portraits, she does not center the photograph on solely the face of the person. I like that she did this because the individuality of an artist is probably the most important quality.

La Sonrisa

For my image, I wanted to include several factors that didn't necessarily relate to each other. As you can see there seems to be a a lot going on, but the message I wanted to get across was the fact that even though our mouths may be deciphering a smile, it does not mean we truly feel content. As human beings, we have a tendency to judge others solely by their appearance, when in reality our appearance could not possibly express everything one carries inside. We may see a person smiling and they may be faking it, they might be going through the worst time of their lives, but we won't stop and think about it because that is not what we see. We need to come to the realization that our assumptions are not always correct. We need to see past the smiling, because a persons eyes say more than a smile will ever do. The background depicts something that looks like a starry sky and I felt that background would be appropriate for my image due to the fact that the sky is something so much more than what we know. We see blue, but we don't know what lives in the blue. It is unknown, therefore we can assume, but never truly be right.

Friday, March 11, 2016


In my self-portrait, I initially wanted to create a comical representation of religious persecution of homosexuals and need for finding a place of belonging. Initially, I began with an idea of turning away from ignorance in search of somewhere using religious persecution as an initiative. In order to inspire comic relief, I wanted to give the ignorant audience a very literal representation of what it is that they implied when they made homosexuals out to be sinners. In this, I had manipulated my face to be a bit demonic in that it had symbols posters of protesters in the background who were blind to the real world behind them, which was full of color. The poster took a turn towards a direction that I didn't necessarily agree with. Instead, I scrapped the poster and began again with the ideas that were most important to me. Namely, the idea of trying to find a place of belonging. I figured that with all of the negativity that exists in the world, there is no reason why sanctuary could not be found somewhere in the great expanse of the universe. So, in my poster, I took to space, and am planting Queer flag on the moon, an unknown, unclaimed environment. Around my head is a bubble helmet, symbolizing fragility of the search for a place of belonging, but still represents a conviction to search. It also symbolizes a retraction from the hateful dirt that is on the Earth. At my feet, I have brought/found a little companion who is watching me establish this new home.

For my self-portrait, I wanted to centralize my theme around the colorful individual nature of sexuality and desire. I also wanted to draw on my "Queer as Style" Poster to play with the use of color to and stylization to create highlight this individualistic nature. I felt that in this being a self-portrait I had to consider the ways in which I stylize and color my desires. The wig worn in the portrait has a lot of energy and meaning for me. After two years of hair growth I decided to get individual colorful braids and fell in love with my new hair. Eventually I came to the conclusion that I wanted it to last forever, and as this was not my first experience with braids I knew this was not possible. This past November I made the decision to cut each braid at the root and make a wig with some still tightly braided and some unraveled. This wig connects me to my belief in queer stylization, and that exploration in your ideas is the only way to further understand yourself. In terms of desire, I am an expressive and often performative person and I therefore thought to have this feeling of ecstasy in my portrait. However, as mentioned eloquently my by Shane in his self-portrait description, I am aware of my male presenting body. The intention if the nipple tassels is to lighten that intensity and weaken any sense of hyper-masculinity. The result is a playful, colorful, and layered presentation of my sexuality as an example of stylized desire.


This portrait was taken on the Normandie hill before getting to the 101 freeway. It spans from Normandie and Melrose to Normandie and Beverly. This hill has strengthened my legs over the years; I've ran from the bottom to the top trying to catch buses, rides, or a dealer depending on the day. Unfortunately, in my portrait, you would not even be able to tell where this is.
You can barely see anything actually, not even my own face. The only thing that shines bright and is visible is the word tortillera, right across my eyes, that translates into lesbian. The first time I ever heard this word, I was with my mother and handful of her girlfriends. They were all sitting down, gossiping about god knows what and I was hardly paying attention because what kid cares about asuntos de adultos(adult matters)...boring. It was not until she said the word tortillera, that I froze. I had never even heard the word before but I already knew it was going to mean something sexual. When I asked my mom, she explained to me that tortilleras are lesbians and that's what people call them in Monterrey, her hometown in Mexico.
I knew at that instant, that I too was a tortillera. I spent years trying to convince myself otherwise however. I did not feel at peace with these feelings I was having towards other women because I knew that my mami would love me unconditionally, it was and continues to be my papa that I worry about. The more I tried ignoring these feelings or hoping it was just a phase, the more depressed it made me.
I committed to just being a drunk and swore off any sort of romantic relationships with any gender. It was all about sex, partying, and crass behavior. Through that period of time, my image of myself, much like the one in my portrait, was almost unrecognizable. I was doing all this damage to myself just to conceal an identity that was so obviously permanent, like the letters across my eyes.
I came to college and began to meet other people who had gone through the same feelings of isolation and pain because of who they were and felt as if I had finally found home. I began to see that there was a world outside of the one I was living in, in which it was okay to be who I was and love who I want to love. I feel that over the past couple of years, I have really began to start flourishing. I am now at peace with myself and love who I am but sometimes, my image and identity still feel a little unrecognizable.
When I go visit my parents, I am comfortable sharing a lot of my personal life with mami because I know I can tell her anything. My papa and I, however, have a different relationship. We talk about college, my plans after, gossip about what our family in Nicaragua is up too, and politics. We never talk about love or relationships but he keeps assuming I will marry a man and even though it is written right across my face, he still can't see it.

Self-portrait - Ronak

For my self-portrait, I wanted to express that everyone comes in different shapes and sizes and that even within ourselves, we change over time. From a very early age, we are shown by TV and films very standard ways of what to wear, how to act, and how to talk. However, this does not mean everyone needs to conform to the Hollywood way of life. Each shape, represents a state of being and this can change over a few years, months, days, or even minutes. Sometimes we are rough around the edges and sometimes we are smooth around the edges. In the end, this piece represents that one size does not fit all and by the wise words of theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, "If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Alexandra Atienzo, Self Portrait

        My self portrait was centered around the idea of words, the weight they have, and the impact they can have on our bodies. This portrait involved a bit of vulnerability on my part, as I stripped myself down to biker shorts and a sports bra to pose in front of white curtains. I was hoping to provoke the same medical feeling pre and post-op pictures patients take as part of the process of plastic surgery. Within the surgical marks are words in Spanish often said in "kindness" to family, loved ones, or friends. These words were constantly sent my way growing up, no matter what my body looked like, it was just part of our crude humor. And though I knew my family and friends meant no harm with their words, I couldn't help but let them ring in my head as I delved into a downward spiral of anorexia and body dysmorphia.
      With this piece I want to express just how much weight our words carry on our loved ones, even if our intentions are good. I purposefully chose words in Spanish because eating disorders and body shaming is not something often talked about in Latinx culture. For many women and femmes, hearing words like "Gorda" "Pendeja" "Longas" are just part of our socialization and growing up. Often these words serve as subtle reminders of the consequences of being fat or not fitting into a certain standard of beauty. These words have long lasting effects on everyone, but especially for those suffering in silence with eating disorders.

Self Portrait

My self portrait is centered around the idea of erasure. With black paint, the material that I use most often in my work, I painted over the areas in my self portrait that identified my gender. The image that I painted over is one of me standing proudly in front of one of my installations, claiming ownership of it, and proclaiming myself as the maker of the work. When making this installation, a lot of physical labor was involved, heavy lifting of objects and reworking of space, which made me think of my role as a woman making this work, and how physical strength is not usually associated with women. This gave me the idea of re-working my self portrait, erasing all of the identifiers of my gender, to resist being understood or labeled as a particular gender. This is something that I have been thinking about a lot recently, and how I am interested in resisting being labeled a particular gender in everyday life, and not only in my work. But I am also interested in resisting gender in the art world. As an active artist who is involved in the art world, I don't necessarily want my gender to inform my work. This is why I painted over the elements in this photo that didn't need to be taken into account, and highlighting the information that was more important. I want my work to be looked at and taken into account, not my body.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Giselle Persak, Self-Portrait

In studying David Wojnarowicz's art, I was really thinking about his use of black and white in his self-portraits. I wanted to keep my image really simple, so as to make my message both clear and able to be defined personally by the viewer. In starting this assignment, I considered what a self-portrait means to my generation in this day and time. There has been this transformation from the art of a self-portrait to what we do today - the selfie. While I love the idea of having that connection with technology and others that enables us to share our unique moments, it is the pressures that come with the act of sharing so much of our lives that I was more focused on. Because we are so surrounded by social media and these perfect images of photoshopped people and bodies, we feel this pressure to take a second look at ourselves to see what needs to be changed or altered before uploading. That is the exact idea that was meant to be communicated in this piece. It is the concept that because of social pressures we feel the need to change ourselves based on the influence of others, drawing influence from a perceived idea of others' perfection instead of our own perfection found in our individuality.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Lexi's Self Portrait

For my portrait, I  am illustrating the misplaced and uncomfortable feeling of being raised within a mixed race family and not quite fitting into either side. I often felt too black for my Mexican American side of my family and not black enough for my African American side. Which I was reminded of my failure to “act black” very often throughout my childhood.  I chose to use a portrait image of myself that I look at and feel confident and beautiful in. This says to me that I am allowing myself to stand on my own two feet despite the crippling feeling of rejection and hoping to pass for the sake of my fragile feelings.  I chose to invert one half of my image to further the alien feeling and also incorporate some of the struggle to even accept myself. I used the two sides of my families to illustrate the army of those who have loved me and supported me, but as loved as I was, I often felt out of place and if I was not conforming to their expectations of my behavior, dress, speech or mannerisms, I was lying to myself and and lying to them as well. I have never felt that my loyalties have lied with one group more than the other, rather, I preferred to float by peacefully. I distorted and made my background image black and white to create an almost uncomfortable tension in comparison to the image in the forefront. All eyes on me and for the right reasons.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Jackie's Self Portrait

What I found most inspiring from David Wojinarowicz was the rawness of his artwork. Although at times I found myself cringing, I was still captivated by the range of emotions that were being evoked.
I've been thinking a lot lately about who I am. There is the entire me, the way I perceive myself, and the idea of me. I find these entities competing against themselves at times most when I'm trying to find the balance. It's a constant internal challenge for me, but through this project I wanted to showcase this feeling with the change in movement and emotions. 

Through this set of pictures, I intended to capture all three (the entire me, the way I perceive myself, and the idea of me). These shots are candid and paused screenshots of a full length video of me putting on makeup and taking off makeup. The candidness of these photographs illustrate the unedited/raw version of me. As I'm doing all these actions, I'm looking at a mirror reflecting the way I perceive myself. Then finally, actions of me putting on makeup and creating an edited version of me, demonstrate the idea of me that I create. 

Shane Valentine, Self-portrait, 2016

For my self-portrait, I didn't want to follow in the same exact vain as David Wojnarowicz in portraiture in the canon of activism. But what I took from his own portraiture is the vulnerability to place himself in front the lens, whether self-mutalated or buried by the weight of the earth. I sought to discover my own individualism and vulnerability as a cisgender male. Trying to take out the hyper dominance or masculinity documented of the male body. Using transparent materials, colored gels, and using multiple exposures,  as ways to fragment myself, allowing for different variables within the photo to be read. I have this impulsion to imply gender, gender-transgessiveness, gender-materiality, and the performance of feminity within the studio space.

Self Portrait, Jun Zhou


This is a self-portrait of me. On the melting face is the “pansexual pride flag” ( three horizontal bars that are pink, yellow, and blue. The pink symbolizes women, the blue men, and the yellow those of a non-binary gender, such as agender, bigender or genderfluid). 
I use the word "Panic" as the name of this photo, for on the one hand, it accidentally shares the same prefix pan- with word " pansexuality", but most importantly I really want to express the mixed feelings when I find myself pansexual. 
It seems like there is a gill grow slowly on my face and enable me to finally drown myself into the ocean like a free whale, however due to the "land attributes", I feel like there always be a strong string tugging my face, my body and my mind to the warm earth .
 It involves the transmutation of fear, excitement, loss, and pain within me. Just like this melting face in the photo, I glance left then right and never know in which side I should stay. Or maybe it is better to embrace this side of me and stay in the status of “ melting" or " blur".
 I am who I am.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Something more to say about " Dolores Del Río mural "

" Dolores Del Río mural " (1990) acrylic paint on wall. This mural can be seen as a tribute paid to the famous Mexican Hollywood actress by Alfredo de Batuc. Dominating in the center is a large black and white head shot of the star, and in each corner an oval with scenes from four of her movies: What Price Glory?, 1926; Flying Down to Rio, 1933; María Candelaria, 1943; and The Fugitive, 1947. Her portrait and the oval scenes are in black and white contrasting sharply with the sunset colors of the background that go from fiery oranges to a passionate red to a dusky burgundy. Warmly touched by the sky in the background is the snow-covered silhouette of Ixtaccíhuatl -- the Sleeping Woman -- a dormant volcano that has been the subject of myth and legend since time immemorial. As an offering to this celluloid deity the sides and the center foreground were festooned with flowers. Most of these flowers are native to southern California or to the southwestern deserts as an allusion to this land and to Flor silvestre [Wild Flower] (1942), her first movie after she left Hollywood. Other flowers that hint at movie titles are Bird of Paradise (1932) and Bugambilia (1944.) The two pairs of calla lilies, after Imogen Cunningham, are a reference to the avant garde of the twenties and thirties in its San Francisco expression.

Friday, March 4, 2016

just something to say

Hi, guys, I'm Jun, Zhou. The exchange student from China for just three months and this is the first time I come to America. Two months has passed and I should say this is definitely one of the most amazing time I've ever had. My major here is Gender Studies, but LGBT Studies has always being one of my top interests. Therefore, I feel so lucky to come here and take this course Queer Arts in Los Angeles. At very first I had thought this maybe a very tough course since I'm new to this city and also have no idea about it's profound arts let alone the Queer one. Surprisingly, it turns out very well. I have been introduced to several new skills so far including photoshop, poster designing, webpage designing, however what is most important and also meaningful to me is the way to appreciate queen arts, that is to say, to break through dominant ideas that limit and marginalize queer art, by creating a new concept of queer as a wider platform for excellence in arts, while daring to speak openly about the norms that constitute society and art practice. To me Queer art plays in the space of unreason. It is experimental. It is provocative. Suspicious. Queer art celebrates the failure to adhere to normative expectations and is pleased with itself as a conscious and exquisite transgression. Hence, queer art never fully arrives. It is always, disrupting, refusing, and resisting the ever-shifting power of normaltivity and dominance, in an effort to carve out more material, affective, and aesthetic space for anyone who is brave enough to want it. I still remembered that once in class I said that how brave and talented u guys are to express whatever u want in this artistic way. And two months has passed I am so impressed by the marvelous artworks you have done. I feel so lucky and happy to become one of the brave!


During last week's class, the professor presented us to several artists. The one that caught my attention the most was the work of one of my classmates. I am not sure about their pgp's, so for this post I will address them as they/them/theirs.
I feel that their art is recognizable. The faces in many of their paintings are similar and the eyes seem to have a lot of detail. From what I've seen so far, they also incorporate a lot of color onto their work. As the professor recommend, I went into the Untitled coffee shop to see their work there and it was astonishing. It was a long strip in which he drew a calavera, a self-potrait, a corazon, and a woman amongst many other things. I stared at it a for a while and like mentioned before, the color was what stood out to me the most. I haven't seen enough of their work to determine what topics they focus on, but I really do hope I do.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Laura Aguilar

I first got introduced to Laura Aguilar's work last quarter during Alma Lopez's Chicana Art class. Ever since then I've had a really intimate and personal connection to them because, like a lot of other people do, we both struggle with our appearances to the point where it becomes an abysmal point in our lives. I love the way that she channels all of her emotional turmoil and self-prescribed hate into beautiful, serene imagery where she belongs completely to the world and the world belongs to her. Alma's point about Laura's memories of traveling to different areas with her mom and bringing back a souvenir every time, and that paralleling what she might want to happen to her; she wants someone to pick her up like the rocks she kept within those fond memories. Every time I see her work, I simultaneously feel depressed yet serene and at ease. She feels that the sun and the wind hug and caress her when no one else will, and I agree. There is such a tremendous sense of both comfort and dismay in knowing that one is really alone, whether that's within one's thoughts, out in society, etc. I think it serves as a reminder that we came from our mothers alone into this world, and often times, that's the way it also ends, nevertheless, you can always count on the sun shining down on your body, and the breeze caressing your skin without judgement.

Cristina Harton

I think the artist that one of our classmates presented was Cristina Harton. I really appreciated her different mediums of work while she stayed true to herself and her style. I felt like her pieces really told her story of her individuality and intersectionality. I love how blunt her work is, it shows that she is not afraid to be herself and show it to the rest of the world. I also love how her pieces are unexpected and they really keep you on edge. Her imagination is wild (and I say this in the best way possible obviously). 

Reflection of Last Lecture


One of the artists discussed in class presentations last lecture was A.L. Steiner. I had never heard of her work before and was really struck by her artistic style. In each of her portraits, she seems to call into question the role of female sexuality, in her own unique way. More than sexuality, her work comments on the politics of the body - something that I'm really passionate about and am thinking about in regards to our final project. Her photography that I've looked at has such an honest edge that it's almost a little shocking at first. However, upon looking at more and more images, I found that I was shocked because we're trained to look away from anything that discusses women's sexuality and to see it as grotesque and inappropriate. I like that she discusses women being women, and not needing an excuse for doing so. She asks us to call into question what we experience as normal, and to think about our own forms of self-expression. To me, her overt sexual expression in almost all of her pieces is an attempt to bring queerness into a place of normalcy and acceptance and a call to people, women specifically, to embrace their unique form of sexual expression.

Artist Reflection

I found that my classmates artists were all interesting and unique, but the one artist that has stuck with me since the discussion is my fellow classmate, who is working on two websites, one for himself and one for two female artists that he did a portrait of and showed to our class. I feel terrible for not catching his name and not being able to give proper credit where credit is due. I was inspired by his work and how much life, color and depth were put into his work. I love that someone left a sandwich by his installation, which just gives me some hope for humanity and how he was able to pay that love forward to someone really in need. Incredible work and I would love to pick his brain more and have him inspire some of my own work.

Reflection on Last Lecture

Last week's presentation on artists was interesting and appealing because of the focus of artists of color. My favorite was Jose Guadalupe Posada's satirical poster, Los 41 Maricones. I loved it because it is directly addressing and mocking the stereotypes associated with gay men. The bottom of the poster read "Muy Chulos y Coquetones" , which translates into "Very sexy and flirty" and I know that at the time, due to the political rule of Porfirio Diaz, the thought of publishing such a thing was as dangerous as it was controversial.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

700 Nimes Road



About two weeks ago, I took a trip to MOCA in West Hollywood to see Catherine Opie's "700 Nimes Road". I did not know the artist or what kind of work she created until the minute I stepped into the museum. For this particular exhibit, the artist Catherine Opie was invited to document Elizabeth Taylor's Los Angeles home. I have never been a fan of Elizabeth Taylor due to the fact that I don't know much about her,  but I fell in love with the idea of her as soon as I saw the photographs Catherine Opie chose to demonstrate in her exhibit. All of the photographs display a graceful femininity that I appreciate very much due to my own identity. I especially appreciated a set of photographs that seemed to be pictures of all the different types of garments hung in her closet. We see denim turn into red and pink silk and then thick fur coats and suede. Her accessories also caught my attention. She had tiaras and diamonds and jewels that didn't lose their shine even when captured through a lens. Her vanity and her shoes are also something that looks so simple because there are no extravagant colors, but there is beauty in that simplicity. I am actually happy that I went on to see this exhibit because I feel that when you see the entire thing, you can learn a few things about a person with just seeing their homes. Honestly its beautiful, the white walls and the wood floors flatter the photographs very appealing.