Role Reversal


MARCH 2 – APRIL 7, 2018

Opening Reception (Free): Friday, March 9, 6-9 pm
Featuring Remarks by Christa Blackwood & Jessica Yatrofsky

Colorado Photographic Arts Center (1070 Bannock St, Denver 80204)

About the Exhibition

The Colorado Photographic Arts Center presents Role Reversal, an exhibition that highlights the work of three women photographers whose images challenge long-held perceptions of beauty and gender roles in visual culture.

Gender disparity has long played an important part in informing the way we look at art and art history. Traditionally, men are the artists and viewers, while women have been confined to play the role of the muse: subjects to be painted, sculpted, and photographed by and from the male perspective.

However, photographs taken by Christa Blackwood, Lissa Rivera, and Jessica Yatrofsky do not exist solely as a counterpoint to the male narrative. Their work is part of a larger conversation about how we see, present, and view others in society.

In Beauty Revisited, Blackwood celebrates the majesty of the male form through the re-interpretation of classical photographic nude studies of the human figure. Inspired by the iconic work Edward Weston, Harry Callahan, and Alfred Stieglitz, Blackwood calls on the audience to view the male figure in the same light as their traditional photographs. The images are a continuation of Blackwood’s Prix West series, a genealogy of classical photographic studies of the human male form in the great outdoors. “The models, all local Austin youths – Sam, Blake and Morgan, ages 19-22, perused my photo library of historical images, photography books and photo biographies to select images that they would like to use as inspiration for our shoots,” Blackwood said.

Rivera’s project, Beautiful Boy, is an ongoing series of photographs of her lover that examines how male displays of femininity can be both accepted and reviled in our society. With her partner, Rivera explores depictions of femininity and reclaims their voice in what is attractive and beautiful. “It is important to show his femininity as strength,” said Rivera. “I want to feel empowered as well, and to have an intimate muse. Together we investigate feminine fantasies presented throughout the history of photography and cinema. The project is a way to ‘step-inside’ images that we have found alluring and examine what it is like to live each scenario out.”

Yatrofsky’s series, I Heart Boy, captures young male nudes their lanky bodies posed sensually against the minimalist backgrounds of naturally lit rooms. The images capture almost androgynous like figures resembling a different male form than the more muscular male figure depicted in past generations. “Through the process of study and repetition I examine and countered the widely and historically accepted images of men and women,” Yatrofsky said.

The exhibition is timely, with #MeToo dominating headlines and women’s marches taking place across America. But Role Reversal is about much more than highlighting talented female photographers, says CPAC’s Executive Director Samantha Johnston.

“While each artist takes a vastly different approach, they all challenge us to question how images influence our beliefs and assumptions about the opposite sex,” she said. “Role Reversal reminds us how powerful photography can be in shaping our perceptions of others.”

About the Artists


Blackwood is a photo, text and installation artist working with themes related to identity, gender, history, and popular culture. Her visual voice was developed while a student at New York University, when she began producing street art such as the poster, Butcherknives (1991), a work that addressed issues of sexual violence. Her works employ multiple techniques and methods, fusing traditional, historical and alternative photographic processes with contemporary practices, street art and clandestine installations at cultural institutions. Blackwood received her Masters in Studio Art from New York University and Bachelors in Classics from The University of Oklahoma. She has exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. and abroad, and her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Austin Chronicle, The Chicago Sun Times, and many other publications.


Rivera is a photographer and curator based in Brooklyn, New York, whose work has received multiple grants and honors and been exhibited internationally. Rivera received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts, where she became fascinated with the social history of photography and the evolution of identity, sexuality and gender in relationship to material culture. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, Harper’s Bazaar, and many other publications. Rivera was chosen as a “Woman to Watch” for the biennial exhibition at the National Museum of Woman in Arts. Selected honors include the Griffin Museum’s Peter Urban Legacy Award; Feature Shoot’s Emerging Photography Award; Photographic Resource Center Exposure, 2016; Danforth Museum Purchase Prize; Filter Photo Festival’s People’s Choice Award; the D&AD Next Photographer Shortlist, 2017; and the Magnum Photography Award for Portraiture, 2017. Rivera is represented by ClampArt, New York.


Yatrofsky is a New York-based photographer and filmmaker, known for film and photographic work exploring body politics, beauty, and gender. She received her MFA from Parsons the New School for Design and published her first photography monograph, I Heart Boy, with powerHouse Books in 2010 and her second photography monograph, I Heart Girl, in 2015. Jessica’s photographic work is part of the permanent collection with the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York City. Her photography work has been exhibited overseas and her film work has been both televised and screened at film festivals internationally.