States of Union is comprised of a series of color portrait photographs of same-sex families.
"Family" in States of Union, may be as few as two individuals who are in a committed
relationship and live as a social unit. Homosexuality exists in every community, and crosses
religious, ethnic and socioeconomic boundaries. And yet, there is often a tendency for the
media to show a single, unflattering visual depiction of gay men and women – and an equal
tendency for gay men and women to search for an accurate representation of themselves
within this single image. Thus, States of Union has a dual objective: as it acknowledges the
gay communityʼs struggle with self-recognition, it also acknowledges the struggle many
Americans have with accepting gays as worthy of equality.

Throughout its history, portraiture has been used to memorialize the family lineage. While
heterosexual families have a pronounced and illustrated legacy, for the most part gay
unions have not been acknowledged in the ledgers of history.

The photographs loosely reference historical portraits. By drawing upon classical images,
the tropes historically used to promote heterosexual family units are re-appropriated and
reinvented to serve a more expanded view of family. Through gesture, lighting, size, color
and formality, the images recall artists such as Manet, Renoir, Paxton and Sargent and pay
homage to the original purpose of portraiture: the glorification of the individual and the
family. These photographs follow in that tradition by enhancing not only the subjects
themselves, but also the subjectʼs personal space. The subject is portrayed in the best
possible manner and decorative elements are manipulated to enrich the surroundings. The
photographs are printed on matte paper with a non-glare luster glaze and framed without
glass; thus recalling the genre of painting. However, while the genre of painting is
referenced in order to link the images to the legacy of portraiture, the choice to use the
medium of photography plays upon our cultural assumptions that what is seen in a
photograph is a record of fact. Thus, the viewer is reminded that these families do, indeed,
exist.



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