fig. 1: Purple Starfish, color photograph, early 1970s
© Betty Fairbank

Essay · Gallery · Statement · Biography · Bibliography

Lesbian Photography on the U.S. West Coast:

Tee A. Corinne
© 1998


The lack of a publicly accessible history is a devastating form of oppression. Lesbians face it constantly. The impact of this on art is that lines of development are obscured, broken, sometimes destroyed beyond reconstruction. We cannot casually go into a library, look up lesbian aesthetics or lesbian photography, and find a body of knowledge, a list of artists, or descriptions of masterpieces.

The vast majority of our imagery is hidden in private scrapbooks or published in small circulation magazines and newspapers.

fig. 2: Norma Jean Coleman in San Francisco, 1951,
scrapbook photo, photographer unknown
© Norma Jean Coleman

Those few openly lesbian artists who have gained mainstream attention, though interesting, are generally not representative. The most famous of contemporary lesbian photographers are still totally closeted. You will not read or perhaps even hear about their partnered lives.

Ask yourself:

How is public discourse created?
How does an artist become known, then well-known?
Influential collectors?
Museum shows with catalogs?
Sale of work at auctions?

Which of these is most available to lesbians doing lesbian-themed work?
Which is least accessible and accepting?

Table of Contents

I. Social Upheaval; Something Wild Was Going On;
The San Francisco Bay Area: A Hotbed of Visual Activity

II. Books and Their Covers;
Documenting the Back-To-The-Land Movement

III. Ovulars and The Blatant Image;
Los Angeles as a Feminist Art Haven;
A Visual Presence for Asian/Pacific Islanders

IV. The Dynamics of Color and LVA;
Lesbians in the Visual Arts;
Lesbian Photographers of African Ancestry;
Making Space / Taking Space

V. Sexuality.

VI. Photojournalism.

VII. Academe-influenced Queer Aesthetics.

VIII. Visualizing Identity in the 1990s.


Books & Archives · Photographers · Critics & Commentators

Essay · Gallery · Statement · Biography · Bibliography


I Social Upheaval






All text Tee A. Corinne.
Watermark VW2D Technology © Purdue University.