Riva Lehrer, Zoom Portraits: Alice Wong, 2020 Graphite, colored pencil on acetate, 25.25 x 31.25 inches
Riva Lehrer, The Risk Pictures: Sharrona Pearl, 2021, Charcoal, pencil, pastel, and collage on acetate and illustration board 25 x 63 inches
Click the button below for the audio and text of the VISUAL DESCRIPTION for Riva Lehrer’s Zoom Portraits: Alice Wong and The Risk Pictures: Sharrona Pearl:
Riva Lehrer (b. 1958) (she/hers) is a Chicago-based artist, writer, and curator whose portraits celebrate and center people stigmatized due to their physical embodiment, sexuality, or gender identity. Lehrer’s process explores the relationship between artist and subject, working to upend traditional hierarchies of power in artmaking and recognize the intertwined nature of creation.
Riva Lehrer’s Zoom Portraits: Alice Wong and The Risk Pictures: Sharrona Pearl illustrate the paradoxical and sometimes bittersweet nature of care during a pandemic. For Lehrer, a portraitist, the virus stole from her the intimacy of collaborating with the subjects who pose in her studio, a presence whose loss she deeply mourns. These Zoom portraits portray the imperfect but necessary ways in which she is adapting her process as a protection for herself and others. Indeed, the triptych in The Risk Pictures: Sharrona Pearl connects that protection to the PPE frontline medical workers wore as they tended to the sick and vulnerable. Sharrona Pearl, a medical ethicist and historian whose scholarship explores theories and histories of the face, is portrayed here in full-face, a formidable insistence on presence even in the midst of physical absence. The third portrait is of Lehrer herself, based on secret screenshots that Pearl took during their virtual sittings. Similarly, Zoom Portraits: Alice Wong is a potent metaphor for the transformative nature of care. Because of affordances like Zoom, disability justice activist Wong can, in concert with Lehrer, espouse a visibility that sustains crip community.
Follow this QR code to learn more about Lehrer