A candid conversation on identity through self-portraiture

A candid conversation on identity through self-portraiture

623 640

Social roles and norms are the root substance of Vaughan Larsen’s work. Larsen is a Milwaukee-based artist and photographer, primarily focusing on self-portraiture dealing with queer identities and relationships within society with their latest project being Rites and Parenthood

“’Rites’ is where I recreate family photographs focusing on moments of tradition and ceremony that I feel like I can’t partake in as easily because I am queer,” said Larsen “’Parenthood’ is where I focused on maternity and how I couldn’t have a child from birth.”

The portraits model family photographs; for example in ‘Rites,’ Larsen is standing next to their father wearing a wedding dress and in ‘Parenthood,’ Larsen is in a delivery room holding a dog.  The big conversation addressed within the work is identity.

“When I first realized I was queer I was 16 and I was just laying in bed and I was crying so much,” said Larsen. “I later realized it was not because I was sad that I was gay or queer but more because I couldn’t really subscribe to the expectation of having a family.” 

Not only has Larsen made a name for themselves behind the camera but they also created a curated Instagram page called “That Way” which highlights different photographers from the LGBTQ+ community.

“I think it’s important to know the background of people unlike yourself,” said Larsen. “I suppose I’m trying to show the background or perspective of the LGBT or queer people.”

Self-portraiture photograph from Rites | Courtesy of Vaughan Larsen

 I first saw Larsen’s work a year ago through an exhibit and I loved it. Even though at the time I had no connection to them or anyone in the photographs, I saw myself in those roles we all were told was normal — things like getting married and the pressures of starting a family. Larsen’s work puts a lens on that mindset and allows the viewer to challenge what is perceived as expected.

You can find Larsen’s work at Var West Gallery, 423 W. Pierce St.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee