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Image courtesy of Cathie Opie

Image courtesy of Cathie Opie

Lecture / Discussion  |  Leslie-Lohman Queer Art Lecture Series presents Cathy Opie

Artist’s work explores sexuality and gender performance

Monday, September 16, 2013, 7–9 pm

Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Auditorium  

Internationally acclaimed photographer Cathy Opie will speak at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. The talk is part of the Leslie-Lohman Queer Art Lecture Series and is free and open to the public, presented by the University at Buffalo’s Department of Visual Studies, in partnership with New York City’s Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, and the Burchfield Penney Art Center

Jonathan D. Katz, Director of the University at Buffalo’s Visual Studies PhD program, President of the Leslie-Lohman Museum, and curator of the series, commented on Opie’s visit: “When we first began the Leslie-Lohman Lectures, Cathy Opie was the opening name on the list. But she is heavily in demand and we are thus only now able to bring her to Buffalo. She is a warm, engaging speaker and her work veers between compelling and brilliant. This is a program not to miss.”

Perhaps the most celebrated living queer photographer, Opie is also a founding figure in queer art generally, whose studio portraits rose to prominence in the 1990s in part due to her repeated subversion of familiar expectations and social codes. In the 1993 photograph Self-Portrait/ Cutting she sits back to the camera, a child-like drawing of a house, a sun peeking through clouds and two women holding hands cut into the skin of her back, the dewy blood outlining the image against her skin. Subsequent series undercut gender expectations and gave form to a still nascent queer theory's notion of gender as performance.

But she then moved beyond these various species of queer self-representation to photograph presumptively heterosexual adolescent men playing football, underscoring that the performance of gender is hardly a quality of queers alone. Her moody images of surfers and of baroque highway cloverleafs further complicates any neat thematic trajectory in her work. Made the subject of a major, superlatively reviewed mid-career retrospective at the Guggenheim in the fall of 2008, Opie has been one of the rare queer artists to have achieved mainstream success on her own terms. One of the most visible lesbian artists in the world, Opie will discuss, among other things the tension among the personal, the particular, the universal and the general in her work.

Currently a photography professor at UCLA, Opie was born in Sandusky, Ohio and received her MFA from CalArts in 1988. Her work has been widely exhibited in the US, Europe, and Japan. In 2013 she was given the Julius Shulman Excellence in Photography Award, and was awarded a United States Artists Fellowship in 2006.

Recent solo exhibitions have been organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, CT, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, The Saint Louis Art Museum, the Photographers’ Gallery in London, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the Long Beach Museum of Art.

The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art is the world’s first museum dedicated solely to providing a venue for multi-disciplinary work that engages gay and lesbian historical, social, or political issues still excluded from mainstream venues. The Queer Art Lecture Series is dedicated to queer art and artists, showcasing the most significant contemporary queer artists with an emphasis on exploring the relationship between their sexuality and their art. Each of the lectures in the series will also be presented at the Leslie-Lohman Museum located at 26 Wooster Street, NY, NY.

Opie’s appearance is additionally co-sponsored by: the UB Graduate Group in Queer Studies; UB Law School’s OUTLaw; and Gay and Lesbian Youth Services (GLYS) of Western New York.

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