Laura Aguilar

Queers we should learn in art school// Laura Aguilar (1959-2018)

"Don’t Tell Her Art Can’t Hurt (Part A)," 1993, by Laura Aguilar. Laura Aguilar / UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center

"Don’t Tell Her Art Can’t Hurt (Part A)," 1993, by Laura Aguilar. Laura Aguilar / UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center



Laura Aguilar was known for her photographs which captured underrepresented populations and communities around her. She began photographing seriously in the late 1980s, when she created portraits of East Los Angeles artists in Day of the Dead costumes. She captured images of Latina lesbians in an attempt to counter the very white, very mainstream gay-rights movement, and later visited lesbian haunts with her camera in El Sereno so she could capture a slice of Latina lesbian working-class life. Her artwork was also visceral and conceptual; I'm always the most struck by her recent 2007 photographs of her own body, stretched and splayed under the California skyline. Her body--a body type not typically portrayed in art--becomes one with the desert, with the landscape, at once ethereal and corporeal.

"The impact of Laura Aguilar’s work is profound. During her exhibition at the Vincent Price Art Museum, we witnessed people responding with a range of emotion — they were moved to tears, or inspired and joyful. So much of her work is about the struggle for self-acceptance. It is something that we can all relate to and Laura’s images validate and acknowledge that journey. By virtue of being who she was, and by documenting herself and those around her, her personal bravery resonates through her images. We are honored to have worked with her and to have played a role in supporting her work and the tremendous legacy she leaves us." (Pilar Tompkins Rivas)


Laura Aguilar's "Nature Self-Portrait #2," 1996, gelatin silver print, 16 inches by 20 inches. Laura Aguilar / UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center

Laura Aguilar's "Nature Self-Portrait #2," 1996, gelatin silver print, 16 inches by 20 inches. Laura Aguilar / UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center

Further sources:

Miranda, Carolina. “Photographer Laura Aguilar, chronicler of the body and Chicano identity, dies at 58".” Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/miranda/la-me-laura-aguilar-photographer-20180425-htmlstory.html

Uszerowicz, Monica. “Remembering Photographer Laura Aguilar’s Empathetic, Queer Art".” Hyperallergic. https://hyperallergic.com/439921/laura-aguilar-dies-at-59-obituaries/