'I Do Like To Stare': Catherine Opie On Her Portraits Of Modern America

‘I Do Like To Stare’: Catherine Opie On Her Portraits Of Modern America

For some, photography is a vocation. For Catherine Opie, it’s also a social liability. “Staring at people’s faces is a problem with me,” the artist admits. “I mean, my wife is constantly saying, ‘You’re staring at that person.’ And I’m just like, ‘I’m really sorry. I’m making a picture.’ And I do like to stare.” Opie is a stocky, affable presence with graying brown hair tucked under a black baseball cap. The 54-year-old has made it a lifelong project to document all kinds of American identities and landscapes, but she caught the art world’s attention with a 1994 self-portrait that still affects how she’s perceived today. “I mean, I’ve had so many people tell me, ‘Oh my God, I was so afraid to meet you,'” she says, shrugging with disbelief. “Why would you be afraid to meet me? Like, I’m just a nice girl who lived across a cornfield in Ohio.” From those cornfields, Opie moved to San Francisco to join a queer scene that was fighting against AIDS and for gay and lesbian visibility. But mainstream gay politics shunned Opie’s community of leather folks and fans of S&M, so she responded with a photograph showing the word “pervert” […]

OrangeniusInc Tweets