Institutional News

Bennington College’s Visual Arts Lecture Series Welcomes Photographer Elle Pérez as Adams-Tillim Speaker

Bennington College’s Spring 2024 Visual Arts Lecture Series (VALS) welcomes photographer and educator Elle Pérez as the Adams-Tillim Lecturer on Tuesday, April 30, 2024. All VALS lectures are free, open to the public, and will take place from 7:00 – 8:30 pm in Tishman Lecture Hall on the College’s campus.

Elle Perez

Working closely with peers from the LGBTQIA+ community as their subjects, Pérez visualizes the complexities of gender identity: the scars left behind on a subject’s chest after surgery, intertwined limbs after a moment of intimacy, a worn and tattered breast binder. Imbued with desire and a profound sense of care for their subjects, the photographs depict the traces of queer experiences and reflect the ever changing nature of identity.

Pérez’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally with current and recent solo shows in MASS MoCA, the Baltimore Museum of Art in 2022, and as a part of the 59th International Venice Biennale and is included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art and The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York and The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others.

“Elle Pérez is the only artist I've asked to return as a VALS speaker,” said Professor of Art History J. Vanessa Lyon, VALS director. “Former students still talk about the first artist lecture they gave at Bennington in 2018, which I also remember as incredibly incisive, inspiring, and just plain real in the best possible ways. We're feeling very fortunate to be able to re-experience Elle's work at this moment of their career as an artist and educator.” 

Early on in their career, Pérez photographed aspiring entertainment wrestlers in the Bronx, fascinated by the performativity and choreography of the wrestling matches. Pérez continues to experiment with the notion of authenticity and uses a collaborative approach to portrait photography that blurs the lines between traditional documentary, still life, and landscape photography.

Pérez is a Bronx, New York-born Puerto Rican artist and photographer living and working in Brooklyn, New York. They received their Bachelor of Fine Art in Photography from the Maryland Institute College of Art and their Master of Fine Art from Yale School of Art in 2015. They are an Assistant Professor of Photography at the Yale School of Art and have previously held appointments at the Visual Studies Department at Harvard University, Williams College, and The Cooper Union. They have completed residencies at MacDowell, Vermont Studio Center, and many more. 

Each term, VALS offers lectures by accomplished visiting arts professionals: artists, curators, historians and critics from underrepresented backgrounds who are invited to engage the College community in the breadth of transformative contemporary art practices. VALS features acclaimed artists who have remained path-breaking and original for decades, as well as newer makers who are garnering international attention.