© Tee A. Corinne
Tee A. Corinne
In 1975 I was in my early thirties, newly divorced and seriously involved with women for the second time in my life. I embraced the word lesbian as used in the popular song "Any Woman Can Be A Lesbian (Lavender Jane Loves Women)" and set out to define for myself what lesbian art imagery might be. I made photographic portraits of known lesbian authors who used lesbianism in the text of their writing. In the San Francisco Bay Area at that time, poets Willyce Kim, Pat Parker, and Judy Grahn were reading to packed houses. I photographed them and others, like Valerie Taylor whose paperback originals had lit the 1950s and 1960s, Anita Cornwell who was one of the few Black writers published in the pioneering lesbian magazine called The Ladder, the very literate Canadian Jane Rule, and Jeannette Foster whose Sex Variant Women In Literature contained forty years worth of research.
I also explored sensual and sexual imagery, both because I was interested in sexuality and because lesbians are so often identified by the who and what of our sexuality. I decided to create images which brought all of the fine art training at my command into focusing on the hidden and forbidden activities of lesbian sex. Additionally, I decided to broaden the types of women who were included in sexual imagery, including fat women, disabled women, women of color, and older women.
I concentrated on getting my pictures published rather than trying to interest galleries in showing them, although I did exhibit in spaces associated with women's bars. Magazines and books offered a more effective way to reach a public which wanted to see the images, but which might not want to pay gallery prices or hang these images on their walls. The reason that the history of erotica is one of print and book publishing is because these items can be easily perused and then stored.
Involvement with the Gay and Lesbian Caucus (an affiliated society of the College Art Association) and with the Lesbian and Bisexual Caucus of the Women's Caucus for Art has helped me stay focused and continue a professional dialogue which began as, and continues to be informed by, community activism. - December 1997
All text © Tee A. Corinne.