The first time I came across Lyle Ashton Harris' work was as an intern at the Jack Tilton Gallery in Soho, NYC back in the '90s. One of the exhibits during my tenure at the gallery was a solo exhibit of Ashton Harris' formal studio portraits. I vividly remember the deep, rich color photographs of himself and his subjects (family and friends?).
Even though I was young, I immediately understood Lyle Ashton Harris' point of challenging the social politics of race, specifically set within the context of gender and sexuality.
As stated by the museum, "Harris approaches photography as a social performance." I admire how as an artist, Lyle courageously explores the issues using his own body and image.
Through May 27, 2008, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art [SMoCA] in Arizona will present the first museum survey of Ashton Harris' work, spanning almost 20 years.
PHOTO: Lyle Ashton Harris, Billie #25, 2002, monochromatic dye-diffusion transfer print (Polaroid), 24 x 20 inches. Courtesy of the artist and CRG Gallery, New York. © Lyle Ashton Harris.