Catherine Opie – born Sandusky, Ohio 1961


Catherine Opie is an influential contemporary American photographer. Best known for her color portraits, Opie’s work explores the strata of our society by focusing on particular groups such as high school football players, S&M leather participants, and LGBT communities. 


Often politically charged, her photographs feature a central figure occupying a flattened space, highlighting her subject’s inner life through the removal of external detail. Throughout her practice, Opie investigates queer culture and personal history, creating work that is often autobiographical and informed by her experiences as a lesbian woman. 


In describing her iconic self-portrait, in which she appears bloodied and with the word ‘pervert’ carved into her chest, she explained, “I made the piece out of a reaction to all of the sudden gays and lesbians’ bringing on the ‘normal’ dialogue to us,” and wanted to “push the boundaries a little bit here about what you guys think normal is.” Still living and working on the west coast, Opie attended the San Francisco Art Institute and the California Institute of the Arts for her bachelor's and master's degrees, respectively. 


Born in Sandusky, OH in 1961, she has been the recipient of tremendous critical acclaim, including retrospectives at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2008 and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston in 2011.

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