Miami’s The Frost Extends Groundbreaking Award-Winning Chicana Lesbian Laura Aguilar’s Retrospective Show
The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University extends the East Coast premiere of critically acclaimed award-winning photographer Laura Aguilar’s “Show and Tell” exhibit through June 3 in Miami, Florida.
The exhibit is an unprecedented exploration of Latin American and Latino art. The collection is the first comprehensive retrospective of more than 100 photographic and video works produced by Laura over three decades.
The Chicana lesbian’s images taken of herself, friends, family and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and Latinx communities are often political and personal traversing performative, feminist, and queer art genres, writes The Frost in its April 20 news release.
Laura is best-known for her iconic triptych “Three Eagles Flying (1990),” which featured her signature self-portraiture of the artist’s nude torso dividing the American flag skirt and her head covered by the Mexican eagle. Her robust body bound by a rope. American and Mexican flags flank her on each side. The controversial image explored the intersection of her body, land, space, and nationality expressing her feelings of not belonging anywhere: not to her family, whom she didn’t resemble, nor either country that is her heritage, yet she is still bound by these realities.
Born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles, in 1959, Laura was challenged by auditory dyslexia. Laura expressed herself through her cameras – still photography and video – teaching herself and then studying photography at East Los Angeles College. Her images gave voice to people and cultures existing on the fringe and in the shadows of society. At first, she penetrated East Los Angeles’s underground LGBTQI world of the 1980s and ‘90s. She went on crossing into never-before-seen territory exploring her own struggles with depression, obesity, self-acceptance, prejudice and misogyny through daring self-portraits juxtapose her over-sized, naked body alongside desolate terrains, hulking boulders and stark bodies of water.
The exhibit highlights “Latina Lesbians (1985-1991)” and “Plush Pony Series (1992),” and “Nude Self-Portraits (1996).”
“Latina Lesbians (1985-1991)” and “Plush Pony Series (1992),” features lesbians from Plush Pony, a neighborhood lesbian bar in El Sereno, located east of downtown Los Angeles. The series of photos capture a microcosm of the city’s queer community of color in the early 1990s.
“Nude Self-Portraits (1996),” a series of photographs taken a road trip through New Mexico with friend and fellow photographer, Delilah Montoya, where she was overtly and visually beginning to challenge her limiting beliefs of her own self-image and self-esteem. Juxtaposing her body in nature, particularly set against the forms of rocks and stone she challenged herself moving towards a place of greater self-acceptance. These self-portrayals resonated powerfully with her and she began pursuing this artistic direction which led to other nude series “Stillness (1999),” “Motion (1999),” “Center (2000),” and “Grounded (2006).”
It was and is her rebellion as well as many others as expressed in the messages by attendees at in The Frost’s overflowing guest book, said Jordana Pomeroy, director of the museum, one of the largest free-standing art museums in Florida.
“Laura Aguilar’s works express raw honesty without demanding a singular response, and we are seeing how her exhibition is providing transformative experiences for those who are open to it,” said Jordana.
The “universal truths about the ways we view others who may not look like ourselves or share our backgrounds,” has resonated strongly with the East Coast’s Latin American and Caribbean audiences as well as audiences from around the world, she continued.
“We are honored to be selected as the venue where the public can currently experience Aguilar’s powerful approach to camera work, and her humanistic eye on her subject matter,” she added.
Laura’s rebellious and groundbreaking images traversing herself to the communities she captured on film spanning from the 1990s to today was recently hailed as one of the most critically acclaimed of all the 70+ exhibitions at cultural institutions across Southern California. Her body of works has been heralded nationwide for establishing the artist as a powerful voice for diverse “invisible” communities, and for courageously disrupting repressive stereotypes of beauty and body representation. This past fall and winter the art world was a buzz at the “PST: LA/LA,” the massive art initiative led by the Getty, over her exhibit that is now on tour.
Laura has been awarded the Anonymous Was A Woman Award and the James D. Phelan Award in Photography and her works have been displayed in more than 50 national and international exhibitions.
A number of collections hold Laura’s works, including: the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City.
The exhibition was curated by Sybil Venegas and was organized by the Vincent Price Art Museum (where it was originally presented as part of PST: LA/LA), in collaboration with the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.
“Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell” exhibit is on display now through June 3 at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University, 10975 Southwest 17th Street, Miami, Florida. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sundays 12 – 5 p.m. Admission is free to the public.
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