Work by Lissa Rivera in “Role Reversal” at CPAC in DenverImage: ©Lissa Rivera, “Study with Chairs I,” 2016, Archival pigment print.

Artworks from photographer Lissa Rivera’s series “Beautiful Boy” are on view in the exhibition “Role Reversal,” alongside works by Christa Blackwood and Jessica Yatrofsky, at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center:

The Colorado Photographic Arts Center presents ‘Role Reversal,’ an exhibition that presents the work of three women photographers whose images challenge long-held perceptions of beauty and gender roles in visual culture.

Gender disparity has long played an important part in informing the way we look at art and art history. Traditionally, men are the artists and viewers, while women have been confined to play the role of the muse: subjects to be painted, sculpted, and photographed by and from the male perspective.

However, photographs taken by Christa Blackwood, Lissa Rivera, and Jessica Yatrofsky do not exist solely as a counterpoint to the male narrative. Their work is part of a larger conversation about how we see, present, and view others in society.

In Beauty Revisited, Blackwood celebrates the majesty of the male form through the re-interpretation of classical photographic nude studies of the human figure. Inspired by the iconic work Edward Weston, Harry Callahan, and Alfred Stieglitz, Blackwood calls on the audience to view the male figure in the same light as their traditional photographs. The images are a continuation of Blackwood’s Prix West series, a genealogy of classical photographic studies of the human male form in the great outdoors. “The models, all local Austin youths – Sam, Blake and Morgan, ages 19-22, perused my photo library of historical images, photography books and photo biographies to select images that they would like to use as inspiration for our shoots,” Blackwood said.

Rivera’s project, Beautiful Boy, is an ongoing series of photographs of her lover that examines how male displays of femininity can be both accepted and reviled in our society. With her partner, Rivera explores depictions of femininity and reclaims their voice in what is attractive and beautiful. “It is important to show his femininity as strength,” said Rivera. “I want to feel empowered as well, and to have an intimate muse. Together we investigate feminine fantasies presented throughout the history of photography and cinema. The project is a way to ‘step-inside’ images that we have found alluring and examine what it is like to live each scenario out.”

Yatrofsky’s series, I Heart Boy, captures young male nudes their lanky bodies posed sensually against the minimalist backgrounds of naturally lit rooms. The images capture almost androgynous like figures resembling a different male form than the more muscular male figure depicted in past generations. “Through the process of study and repetition I examine and countered the widely and historically accepted images of men and women,” Yatrofsky said.

The exhibition is timely, with #MeToo dominating headlines and women’s marches taking place across America. But Role Reversal is about much more than highlighting talented female photographers, says CPAC’s Executive Director Samantha Johnston.

“While each artist takes a vastly different approach, they all challenge us to question how images influence our beliefs and assumptions about the opposite sex,” she said. “Role Reversal reminds us how powerful photography can be in shaping our perceptions of others.”

“Role Reversal: Christa Blackwood, Lissa Rivera, and Jessica Yatrofsky”
March 2 – April 7, 2018

Colorado Photographic Arts Center
1070 Bannock Street
Denver, CO 80204
For more information

Browse all of Lissa Rivera’s work at ClampArt

Blog post by:
Raechel McCarthy, Director