Shutter-bug Ashley Kolodner is capturing diverse identities in a portrait book of the LGBTQ community.
GayFace: 1st Class is representing. When you look at each set of portraits you can feel that something real and tangible has been captured. These aren’t just glorified selfies; GayFace is a collection of living art, humans expressing themselves, and they are beautiful in their honesty and pride.
GayFace is a current collection of fine photography works by New York City photographer/artist Ashley Kolodner. Kolodner desires to help society see that gay rights should be upheld and recognized, and that sexuality is not so simple. She recognizes that numerous members of the LGBTQ community do not identify with just one label.
Queer culture is most often portrayed as radical, quirky, offbeat even unserious, or detrimental to social and familiar norms. The goal of this project is to break barriers that the LGBTQ community has lived under. The purpose is to give this community the voice it deserves and the power to speak their truth. This collection of works is done to portray the innovative, personal, and participatory face of the gay movement and American culture at large and in the home.
Each subject is photographed with their eyes closed, then eyes open. The images are meant to be seen side by side. Closing their eyes gives the viewer a sense of the subjects’ vulnerability. The eyes open, allows the subject to look the viewer directly in the eye. Once the photographs have been taken, each subject participates in a short interview stating their name and their identifiable label of their choosing.
The work will then be projected onto different buildings and landmarks, to superimpose this true-to-life image of the gay community and further the aims of the movement in light of the current ACLU and marriage court cases. Kolodnerhas and will continue to tour the United States to shoot individuals who overtly, or covertly, identify within the LGBTQ community. Her work has already contributed greatly to the self-identity and empowerment of these individuals, producing a massive support system. This work will also be contributed to book projects, street art and gallery exhibitions. She is working to unify others in her movement in celebration of sex, freedom of identity, freedom of association, and culture.
Kolodner, a queer woman, artist and activist specializing in still photography, was born in Washington, DC, and graduated with a B.A. in commercial photography from the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA. After graduating, she traveled the US, living in Los Angeles, San Diego, Washington, and finally settling in Brooklyn, N.Y. with her pitbull Billie Holiday. In 2011 she started GayFace as a personal project but by 2012 the project started to gain recognition, which moved her emotionally to pursue a dream of giving back to the community.
“Numerous members of the LGBTQ community do not identify with just one label.”
Kolodner believes that her lifelong love of art in all of its forms, especially collage, ceramics, fashion, painting, glass blowing, and music, has informed her unique style of photography. Although she is young, her work is prolific. She has photographed the likes of Nas, Damien Marley, Mayer Hawthorne, and Nipsey Hustle, among others. Her work has been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers, galleries and shows, including Toronto Fashion Week. Her work was featured in Photographer Forum’s Best of Photography 2011.
In that split second shutter click, Kolodner captures the personalities of her subjects, connecting with them on a whole new level. She hopes that her photographs will bring deeper awareness, create a human connection and invoke emotion.
So ladies, let’s show our support by getting involved and donating (if you please) to a project that finally puts a face to what gay really looks like; us.