Photo of billboards showing two diptychs from Gayface

From 2011 to 2015, artist and photographer Ash Kolodner (born 1987) traveled across the United States photographing hundreds of LGBTQ+ individuals of all ages. They made two consecutive portraits of each of their subjects, photographing them twice during the same sitting: once with eyes closed and then with eyes open. These diptychs symbolize the vulnerability many have felt at the outset of discovering their personal identities, and then the realization and self-actualization manifest in the intimate and profound process of coming out.

Diptych portrait of Ash Kolodner

“There is no one way to look, feel or be LGBTQ+. I created Gayface as a response to the stereotypes that the LGBTQ+ community is often reduced to, as well as the notion that a ‘gay face’ exists.”

Ash Kolodner (they/them) was born in Washington D.C. They have a B.F.A. in commercial photography from the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, CA and an M.F.A. in Photography from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Ash’s rise to prominence in their early 20s was with their first major project, “GAYFACE 1st Class”—a series of more than 500 portraits of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals living in America. “GAYFACE 1st Class” was a powerful body of work that revealed the more vulnerable side of the queer community while celebrating what it means to “live out loud.”

Their follow-on series, “Showing Face,” was exhibited across Philadelphia’s subway stations and billboards in 2016 as part of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Project. As a commercial photographer, Ash has photographed a number of artists and. musicians including Nas, Damien Marley, Mayer Hawthorne and Nipsey Hustle, among others. Their work, which ranges from photography to painting to sculptural installations, has been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers, galleries and group shows, including Miami Beach Art Basel, Toronto Fashion Week and Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Project. Ash’s work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Curve Magazine and Photographer’s Forum Best of Photography 2011, among other publications.  

Gayface is the culmination of more than a decade of work.