A photo exhibit by artist Laura Aguilar featuring portraits of a “hidden subculture” of large-bodied, lesbian, Latina women, herself included, is receiving high praise from critics for its examination of “identity and belonging, the friction of feeling unworthy and the peace of reaching self-acceptance.”
In what marks Aguilar’s first full survey, independent curator Sybil Venegas, a former professor of Aguilar’s at East Los Angeles College, compiled more than 130 of Aguilar’s works and displayed them over two floors at the Vincent Price Art Museum. Notable pieces included a series of prints titled How Mexican is Mexican, which included a row of thermometers at the bottom of each print, in the same way that is often used to measure hot sauce. But according to art critics Leah Ollman of The Los Angeles Times and Michelle Hart of The New Yorker, it was Aguilar’s nude self-portraits that really stole the show.
Join us! GENDERED & QUEER SPACE + PLUSH PONY AFTER HOURS Saturday, November 4, 2017 Discussion: 3-5pm Plush Pony After Hours Party: 5-8pm Taking a cue from Aguilar's consideration of gender and place, six artists sit down to explore artistic practice as gendered and queer space, and the ways in which their work engages with identity and culture. #PSTLALA
In a series of self-portraits taken in the New Mexican desert, the curves of Aguilar’s nude body fit naturally among the deserts rocks and boulders, and “echo beautifully the shapes of the landscape around her,” Hart wrote.
Join us tomorrow! Opening Reception: Laura Aguilar: Show & Tell 5-7pm Later series are rooted in more introspective and spiritual explorations, as Aguilar's ongoing personal discovery led to the works for which she has come to be most recognized for – nude self-portraiture in nature. ADMISSION IS FREE #PSTLALA @pstinla
In another, more overtly political piece, the artist can be seen standing topless and bound in rope between the American and Mexican flags, her lower body draped in the Star Spangled Banner, and her head muzzled by an image of the eagle from the Mexican coat of arms.
People that have gone to view the exhibit are posting on social media.
But for Ollman, the most remarkable piece may have been a 2007 video, in which Aguilar can be seen standing naked, “literally and metaphorically,” in front of a stone wall.
“Aguilar speaks to the camera about her struggles with depression, fear, self-doubt, the lack of touch in her life … describing how her photographs help remind her of her own capacity and beauty,” Ollman wrote.