The concept of American Landscape is largely determined by one’s own life experiences. My American Landscape is undoubtedly shaped by the diverse characters that that surround me: artists, drag queens, performers, vagabonds. Turning my camera to a diversity of subjects, particularly those entrenched in New York City’s vibrant and often decadent club scene, my work investigates the fluidity of sexuality and self. What is more American then freedom of self expression? In this series, I follow a group of friends during the summer months that not only express themselves without apology but also have found a sense of community with each other.
“The Fluidity of Sexuality and Self”
Nicholas Joseph Contrera is photographer based in New York City who has been developing his craft and voice for the past eight years. The bulk of his work challenges the concept of gender. This is not new, as many before him have brought this into cultural discussion, however Contrera draws attention to the growing awareness of the topic. During his work with Michael Weschler in the Young Photographer’s Alliance, he mentions of the first openly transgendered woman on the cover of Time Magazine (Laverne Cox), in conjunction to the build-up of celebrities’ gender identities being openly discussed. With current concerns for the LGBTQ communities’ rights, specifically the transgender community with President Trump’s desire to bar transgender people from serving the military “at any capacity”, now is the best time for dialogue that Contrera is depicting in his work.
At the start of his career as a fine arts photographer, he ahs already gained a head start in establishing himself and building his reputation. He has been written and interviewed by fairly, to widely, recognized news outlets such as OutBuzz, the Huffington Post, and Manhattan Digest. In 2015, Contrera collaborated with the New York Pride Guide as well. He is driven to photograph subjects that are ignored in the larger conversation of LGBT topics. In his work, Contrera seeks individuals not commonly shown and photographs them in their strongest state, and captures their self-presentation to all.
Recently, Contrera had a residency at the Kinngait Studios in Iqaluit and Cape Dorset, Canada this summer in 2017. One of his works, a collaboration with a friend and model – Xander, made the cover of Never Apart Magazine in July, 2017, a magazine focused on the “positive change and unity through culture”. In an article by the Huffington Post earlier this year, Contrera had announced his current body of work that is ongoing. Titled in the article as “The Children of Christopher”, this series explores the LGBTQIAP+ communities in the outer boroughs of New York City that do not participate in the parade and the night life/club scene due to several reasons (affordability, age restrictions, etc.) These audiences take over Christopher Street and produce their own way of celebrating Pride.
When producing ______hood, I wanted the exhibition to represent artists who are in the process of becoming established. Several of these artists have are technically world-renown, and multi-award winning, but still tenaciously pursue a place in their lives where all they do is make their work and can make a living off of it. Nicholas is definitely one of these individuals as he continues to advocate the LGBT community the Art. In this “rite of passage” I hope to provide space for dialogue about identity, and exploring the moment someone achieves an identity, and the factors that come into play.
Rothman, Lily, and Aleksandra Gjorgievska. “Laverne Cox Becomes First Transgender Person Nominated for an Emmy.” Time, Time, 10 July 2014, time.com/2973497/laverne-cox-emmy/. Accessed 4 Sept. 2017.
Staff, YPA. “Nicholas Joseph Contrera.” Young Photographers Alliance, YPA, 4 Jan. 2017, youngphotographersalliance.org/nicholas-joseph-contrera/. Accessed 4 Sept. 2017.
Staff, Phillip M.0 “Photographer, Nicholas Joseph Contrera, Deputs his NYC Series, ‘The Children of Christopher (St)'” Huffington Post, 30 Jun. 2016 / Updated 1 Jul, 2017, huffingtonpost.com/phillip-m-miner/photographer-nicolas-jose_b_10757508.html. Accessed 4 Sept. 2017.