In Sandy's Room
photograph, 14" x 18", 1989
Laura Aguilar

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Artist Statement
Laura Aguilar

I am a mostly self-taught photographer. My photography has always provided me with an opportunity to open myself up and see the world around me. And most of all, photography makes me look within.

I have learned so much about myself through the women in the Latina Lesbian series. The series is an ongoing project started in August of 1986. At present I have 30 photos, but would like to increase that to 100. At that point I may feel done with the series. In the end, I would like to put the series into book form.

The series began when I was asked to put together a body of work which showed a positive image of Latina Lesbians for a mental health conference dealing with Latins. The conference was held in my hometown, Los Angeles, and the series reflects images of Lesbians living there.

What I am trying to do with the series is to provide a better understanding of what it's like to be a Latina and a Lesbian by showing images which allow us the opportunity to share ourselves openly, and to provide role models that break negative stereotypes and help develop a better bridge of understanding. I also hope that the pieces provide the opportunity to explore ourselves and others, and to express our own beauty, strength and dignity.

Within the Lesbian and Gay community of Los Angeles, people of color are yet another hidden subculture; we are present, but remain unseen. Through the work on this series, I have found this subculture to be a caring and diverse community of women who are quite proud and connected to their heritage.

I decided to add language; that was the only way I could see myself saying anything about being Latina or Lesbian, and it's working out. However, adding language makes the process harder for me. I have dyslexia, so reading, writing, and understanding is very frustrating. Most of the women used handwriting which is even more difficult to figure out. It has been and continues to be quite a challenge, but when I see the series work, I get a great deal of satisfaction.

My artistic goal is to create photographic images that compassionately render the human experience, revealed through the lives of individuals in the lesbian/gay and/or persons of color communities. My work is a collaboration between the sitters and myself, intended to be viewed by a cross-cultural audience. Hopefully the universal elements in the work can be recognized by other individuals' communities and can initiate the viewer to new experiences about gays, lesbians and people of color.

-excerpted from Nueva Luz, Vol. 4, #2, 1993 and Gallerie: Women's Art, Vol. 1, #1, 1988.

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All text Laura Aguilar.