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Lesbian, Latina and large-bodied Laura Aguilar reclaims her body and journey headline-grabbing exhibition

Lesbian, Latina and large-bodied, Laura Aguilar fearlessly reclaims her body and her journey with headline-grabbing exhibition Show and Tell at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU in Miami, Florida.

"At Home with the Nortes" (1990). Courtesy of Laura Aguilar and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center

Lesbian, Latina and large-bodied, Laura Aguilar fearlessly reclaims her body and her journey with headline-grabbing exhibition Show and Tell at the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU (located on the campus of Florida International University) in Miami in the US East Coast in Miami until May 27.

The first comprehensive retrospective of the American photographer’s work assembles more than 100 photographs and video spanning three decades. A rebellious and groundbreaking Chicana, Aguilar’s retrospective has been heralded for establishing the artist as a powerful voice for diverse “invisible” communities, and for disrupting repressive stereotypes of beauty and body representation. Often political as well as personal, the bold portraits cut across performative, feminist and queer art genres.

Laura Aguilar, Grounded #111, 2006. Inkjet print.
Courtesy of the artist and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. © Laura Aguilar

The images captured through her lens reflect Aguilar’s struggles with depression, obesity, self-acceptance, prejudice and misogyny.

Challenged by auditory dyslexia, she struggled with words and turned to her camera to penetrate the underground LGBT world around her in the East Los Angeles of the 1980s and 90s. Her later works cross into never-before-seen territory: Aguilar’s daring self-portraits juxtapose her over-sized, naked body alongside desolate terrains, hulking boulders and stark bodies of water.

“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 Pomeroy, director of the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU. “Exhibited outside of its native Southern California context, Aguilar’s exhibition resounds strongly to our East Coast, Latin American and Caribbean audiences ─ with universal truths about the ways we view others who may not look like ourselves or share our backgrounds.”

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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, Day of The Dead, East L.A., 1981. Cyanotype
Courtesy of the artist and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. © Laura Aguilar

Laura Aguilar, Plush Pony #2, 1992. Gelatin silver print.
Courtesy of the artist and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. © Laura Aguilar

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