New York-based activist/photographer Ashley Kolodner is on an ambitious mission to highlight our pretty gay mugs in her latest project, aptly named “GAYFACE: 1st Class.” The work is a collection of diptych photo portraits of a rainbow of queer folk that she says empowers the queer community and highlights the beauty within all of us, regardless of where we fall on the LGBTQ spectrum.
How does she achieve that, you ask? There’s a very specific process. During the photo session, she begins by photographing the model with his or her eyes closed. Then, she tells them to open their peepers and strike any pose they choose. Snap. When the images are placed side-by-side, it creates an intriguing juxtaposition, one that not only transforms the perspective of the viewer staring at the subject, but empowers the subject by giving them a chance to stare right back. This, Kolodner explains to the Huffington Post, is her attempt to “break the barriers under which the LGBTQ community has lived for too long … to give this community the voice it deserves and the power to speak the diverse truth … [and] to portray the innovative, personal and participatory face of the gay movement and American culture at large and in the home.”
She has already photographed more than 150 individuals, and plans to continue amassing subjects across the country. “I have plans to cover the U.S. and eventually travel internationally. … Once the photographs are complete, there will be gallery shows, projections of these photographs on buildings and landmarks, street art, and a book produced with all comments and stories shared from the photographed subjects’ experiences.”
To keep up with her whereabouts — which may include a stop in Philly — follow the project on Facebook or check out her website. In the meantime, though, enjoy the photo gallery of some of her works below.