Photographer Sage Sohier is no stranger to Portland’s art scene. The Massachusetts-based artist’s work has been shown in Portland’s Blue Sky Gallery in several different exhibits over the past decade. Her photos—often poignant profiles of people in their homes or with their families—have been featured in museums and galleries across the country: from the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the to the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago to the Portland Art Museum.
Perhaps her most iconic work, At Home With Themselves: Same-Sex Couples in 1980s America, is on display now at Blue Sky, and it recently caught the eye of the New York Times. The series traces Sohier's exploration of committed same-sex couples during one of the most formative decades of the gay rights movement, the AIDS-ravaged 1980s. “Looking at these pictures now, I realize that it took a good deal more courage to stand up and be photographed as a same-sex couple in the 1980s than it does today,” Sohier writes in the recently published book of the series, “and I think the photographs somehow convey that.”
Sage Sohier "At Home With Themselve: Same-Sex Couples in 1980s America" Blue Sky Gallery
Thru Nov 2 The photographs began at the peak of America's hysteria around AIDS, creating an enhanced political angle than these images originally intended. In the recent interview with The New York Times, Sohier said of the series’ conception, “I was thinking about my gay friends and the gay community, and that provided an extremely poignant backdrop against which to photograph these couples.”
She also reveals her father’s influence on these images, as he left her family when she was one to live with a series of boyfriends, although never admitted he was gay. “I started this not even thinking about my father, then after a few months I thought, of course, that’s why I’m doing it, that’s one of the things that grabs me about it. I’ve always had this yearning and curiosity for him,” Sohier told The New York Times.
At Home With Themselves: Same-Sex Couples in 1980s America will be on view at the Blue Sky Gallery until November 2, along with a book composed of 56 photographs, interviews with the subjects, and an essay written by Director of the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, Hunter O'Hanian.