Joan E. Biren’s images from the ’70s and ’80s—which appear in the new exhibit “Art After Stonewall”—reflect an effort to document and encourage lesbian love.
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series about the gay-rights movement and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.
In her classic 1975 self-portrait, the lesbian photographer Joan E. Biren (or “JEB,” as she is more commonly known) tacitly shifts the meaning of a road sign. Smiling, with a glint in her eye, she leans comfortably against the post, her confident posture signaling a reconfiguration of the word emblazoned above her head: dyke points not to the Virginia town the sign is announcing, but to the photographer herself. Self-Portrait, Dyke, VA (1975) is a reclamation of the slur and a confrontation with all but JEB’s most kindred viewers.
Featured Image: KRISTINE EUDEY / LESLIE-LOHMAN MUSEUM