Skip to Content

Lesbian, Latina, Large: The Unapologetic Artwork of Laura Aguilar ~ An Image Gallery

2:39 PM PDT on May 4, 2018

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he artist and photographer Laura Aguilar spent most of her career chronicling her struggles to confront and accept her sexuality and her obesity, creating unforgettable images in the process. She also chronicled the intimate social spaces that exist among Latina lesbian women on Los Angeles’s rich Eastside. A week ago on Wednesday, Laura Aguilar passed away at the age of 58.

Aguilar was born in San Gabriel, a fifth-generation Californian, and lived most of her adult life in Rosemead, according to the obituary by Carolina Miranda in the L.A. Times. Until she was 26, Aguilar didn’t know she was dyslexic. She was described as walking quietly through her school years, finding difficulty in learning how to read, yet diligently taking photos on the margins of the Chicano renaissance. But she was ahead of her time. Aguilar's arresting images of the artist’s own nude body, set sometimes in natural landscapes, befit the current climate seeking affirmation and representation for marginalized queer and fat people in the runways of mainstream cultural life.

“She’d get up and there would be little pebbles that would drop off her.”

As recently as last year, Aguilar’s work hit a peak that would have seemed unlikely when she started out: she was the subject of a retrospective at the Vincent Price Museum at East Los Angeles College. Just as she neared the end of her life, Laura Aguilar's work was becoming widely known and widely celebrated.

Earlier this week I spoke with Delilah Montoya, an artist and professor in Houston who was among Aguilar's close friends. Delilah accompanied Laura at the opening of “Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell” last September at ELAC.

“Ultimately, I would say the last six or seven years, she’d come to this point where’d she tell me, ‘Delilah, I’m happy. You know, the closer I get to death, the happier I’m getting.’ The more she became … I don’t want to use satisfied, but less depressed … her depression started lifting, and her self-hate started lifting,” Montoya told me. “She started coming into better terms with all that.”

Montoya was with Aguilar when she made some of her landscape nude images. Laura was inspired by the land she saw in New Mexico, which she visited while Montoya lived there.

“We would go in the early mornings, when the heat didn’t jump in there that bad ... some rains had come in,” Montoya recalled. “She’d get up and there would be little pebbles that would drop off her. I remember the first couple exposures we did, looking at the back end of the camera, I went: ‘Laura, you’re really going to like these.' And she wasn’t the only one.”

The following is a gallery of some of Laura Aguilar's most iconic images. They are reproduced courtesy of the Vincent Price Museum and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. The copyright is retained by the estate of Laura Aguilar.

Nature Self-Portrait #10, 1996, Gelatin silver print, 16 x 20 inches. All images courtesy of the Vincent Price Museum/UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.
Grounded #111, 2006, Inkjet print, 14 1/2 x 15 inches.
Grounded #108, 2006, Inkjet print, 16 x 20 inches.
In Sandy's Room, 1989, Gelatin silver print, 42 x 52 inches.
Nature Self-Portrait #10, 1996, Gelatin silver print, 16 x 20 inches.
Nature Self-Portrait #14, 1996, Gelatin silver print, 16 x 20 inches.
Motion #56, 1999, Gelatin silver print, 15 x 16 inches.
Clothed/Unclothed #34, 1994, Two gelatin silver prints, 20 x 16 inches each.
Three Eagles Flying, 1990, Three gelatin silver prints, 24 x 20 inches each.
Plush Pony #15, 1992, Gelatin silver print, 14 x 11 inches.
Plush Pony #18, 1992, Gelatin silver print, 11 x 14 inches.
At Home with the Nortes, 1990, Gelatin silver print, 16 x 20 inches.
Barbara Carrasco, 1990, Gelatin silver print, 14 x 11 inches.
Stillness #26, 1999, Gelatin silver print, 9 x 12 inches.
Don’t Tell Her Art Can’t Hurt (Part A), 1993, Gelatin silver print, 57 x 40 inches.


'Dolores' Film Seeks to Re-Think Labor Leader Dolores Huerta — Again

The Rise and Fall of Oscar Zeta Acosta: What Happened to the 'Brown Buffalo'?

Already a user?Log in

Thanks for reading!

Register to continue

Become a Member

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from L.A. TACO

Spot Check! Caviar Cakes, Champurrado Pot de Creme, Tamal Ice Cream, and Free Elote From Becky G

You can also party with L.A.'s first Black women-owned dispensary, enjoy a Lebanese legend past midnight, and pair quesabirrias with funnel cakes.

September 29, 2023

The Seven Best Tacos Along Metro’s K Line, From Crenshaw to Inglewood

The K Line is Metro's newest light rail line that cruises through the heart of Black Los Angeles, from Nipsey Square to Leimert Park. The taco scene along this route is all about hustle, featuring some of the cities must under-the-radar community gems like a historic L.A. taquería with a killer red salsa, lightly crunchy "enchilada tacos," and so much more. Next stop: flavor.

September 29, 2023

Is Hollywood’s Walk of Fame The World’s Worst Tourist Attraction?

A local news station scanned Google, TikTok, and other online reviews to cherry-pick a handful that calls the Boulevard "grubby, slightly scary... dirty, unsafe" and "one of the worst tourist attractions on the planet." We weighed in on the subject.

September 28, 2023

The Eight Best Punk Bars and Venues in Los Angeles

This may be the last generation of beautifully grimy punk bars and venues in a city that is overdeveloping all of these counterculture community spaces into the post-gentrification abyss. Go and support by buying drinks at all these places to make sure they stick around for the next generation.

September 27, 2023

L.A.’s Best Secret Ecuadorian Restaurant Opens Weekends Only at This Wilshire Blvd. Cafe

On weekends,Cafe Fresco transforms into one of the rare places in the city to find seco de chivo, llapingachao, guatita, and other regional Ecuadorian eats.

September 26, 2023
See all posts