For Laura Aguilar, photography was more than just a way to express herself but an outlet for the world to see another side of being Chicana. Whether it was capturing her Mexican-American heritage or her identity as a lesbian, Aguilar was a trailblazer whose impact touched many in the queer Latino community. The 58-year-old Los Angeles photographer died on Wednesday morning due to end-stage renal failure, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Laura’s passing is a profound loss,” said Chon Noriega, director of the Chicano Studies Research Center, according to LA Times. “She had an ability to cut through the biases and habits of thought that makes us see a smaller world than actually exists. And she did it as an expression of the stunning beauty of the human body, including her own.”
Her photography chronicled the lives and identities of marginalized people of color including herself.
One of the most prolific queer chicanx/brown photographers of Los Angeles, rest in power Laura Aguilar. pic.twitter.com/yqBsNxVGV9
— paletero papi (@pablocurates) April 25, 2018
Aguilar’s images were featured in exhibitions across the country including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Hammer Museum, Artpace in San Antonio and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.
Her work was trailblazing for many in the queer community because of the raw and powerful subjects depicted.
sad to hear that one of my favourite artists, Laura Aguilar, queer latinx storyteller, feminist cartographer, passed away today pic.twitter.com/y2OWCJ9l1M
— sarah-tai black (@sarahtai) April 25, 2018
“Laura’s work a lot of time represents people that are marginalized and people that are oppressed or people that are invisible,” Sybil Venegas, a curator for Aguilar’s past exhibits, told LA Weekly. “Poor, large women of color — they tend to be invisible in society. Nobody sees them. They’re not represented in media.”
Fans of her work have taken to social media to honor her work and influence on their lives.
I’m grateful to have seen myself reflected in Aguilar’s photographs, art that centered fat, queer, Latinx bodies. Rest in love and power, Laura Aguilar. https://t.co/ILxEe0MzTk
— Aldo (@ladycaucau) April 25, 2018
Some of her fans saw themselves in her work and could relate to many of the subjects depicted in her various work.
Laura Aguilar’s legacy will live on forever with her photographs and fans that she impacted with her work.
— Monica Palacios (@MonicaPFlash) April 25, 2018
Just this past year her work was part of the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA series whose theme was highlighting Latino work in Los Angeles. “Laura Aguilar: Show and Tell” at the Vincent Price Art Museum on the campus of East Los Angeles College, and her photography appeared last year in the two-part exhibition “Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A.”