Intricately Woven: Networks of Desire in Queer Chicanx L.A., 1985-2020


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Art History


This dissertation examines networks of queer Chicanx sociability and desire in Los Angeles between 1985 and 2020, as captured through portraiture, photography, and drawing. Drawing upon the historical contributions of Chicana and Latina feminist artists, authors, scholars, and activists in advocating for the visibility of the intersectional queer subject, the project demonstrates how five L.A.-based artists – Laura Aguilar, Reynaldo Rivera, Hector Silva, Shizu Saldamando, and Julio Salgado – have upended traditional conceptions of the Chicanx subject through their portrayal of openly queer likenesses and bodies. In doing so, their work also often takes on an archival quality, documenting tangled weaves of friendships, sexual encounters, club scenes, border crossings, and oral histories. The project takes the AIDS crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic as thematic frameworks, in which vital portrayals of closeness and intimacy persist even in the face of public health crises and institutional homophobia.