Matthew Black
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What  drives my photography is a yearning to be in the moment, to be in tune with life, to be more connected to myself. Photography is a way of being in life -- a source of insight, connection and fulfillment. And, it’s a way to convey life’s depth and richness through a two-dimensional medium. Photography has the potential to touch and reflect our humanness.


I have studied with, and am inspired by, noted photographers Sam Abell, Jay Maisel, Eddie Soloway and Nevada Wier. In my landscapes, environmental portraits and formal studio work, I go beyond pretty pictures to capture the character, feeling and soul of my subject–place or person. I look for what makes a subject special and enduring, what takes it beyond the ordinary.  


I attempt to capture expressions and gestures that symbolize and remind us of our commonality. At times I strive to get close to subjects, to know them, and to allow their story and feelings to infuse my images. At other times, I keep my distance. At all times, I seek to capture the individuality that gives the image its specificity in the world, and if successful, to also reveal something universal and timeless. Finally, I am energized by the “re-play” of my creative experience when my images are seen by others and a reaction is elicited.



Since 2007, I have documented the outrageous and provocative social activist group, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Members of this international Sisterhood take on the identities of 21st century nuns, dedicated to “promulgating universal joy, expiating stigmatic guilt, and serving the community.” Far more than street performers, they use the art of drag to raise awareness for the LGBT community, educate about safe sex & AIDS, raise money for local non-profits, and advocate for human rights. In the time-honored tradition of the “sacred fool,” the Sisters challenge and engage us by testing social proprieties, pushing frontiers, and voicing the unutterable. 


My one-man exhibit at the Hisaoka Gallery in Washington DC (Oct 15-Nov 13, 2010), Identity Writ Large, uses public-private portraits of Sisters in the Seattle chapter to raise awareness of the deeper, universal questions we ask ourselves: Who am I really? How do I discover, accept and integrate my conscious and unconscious selves?  Visibly capturing the Sisters’ transformation between alternate personas, I celebrate the universal theme of identity and challenge the viewer to engage at multiple visual and psychological levels.  


My overarching goal is to use this series to promote greater understanding, respect, and tolerance for all members of our larger community by celebrating our variety, complexity and ambiguity. “We meet ourselves time and again in a thousand disguises on the path of life.”   – Carl Jung  

For information about images or arranging to exhibit The Sisters: Identity Writ Large at your gallery or museum, please contact me at:

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