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Barbara DeGenevieve was an interdisciplinary artist living in Chicago, who worked in photography, video, and performance. She lectured widely on her work and on subjects including human sexuality, gender, transsexuality, censorship, ethics, and pornography. Her writing on these subjects have been published in art, photographic, and scholarly journals, and her work has been exhibited internationally.
DeGenevieve received her MFA in photography from the University of New Mexico in 1980, and the same year began teaching at the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign. Before joining the faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1994, she taught at San Jose State University, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the California College of Art. DeGenevieve was a professor and chair of the Department of Photography at the School of the Art Institute.
Much of her art explored the connections among dominance, power, and sex, including their inverse relationships. This led DeGenevieve into controversy, particularly during the National Endowment for the Arts funding scandals of the early 1990s (widely known as "the culture wars"). She spoke on many occasions on issues of censorship as a direct result. On some occasions she used performative texts or poems, gothic costume, and theatrical tactics to amplify her point. She might speak in character as parody or as the subject of her discourse, but always with a sense of humor and charity for her subject. She continued to court controversy, having established an interdisciplinary and new media arts program at SAIC that instructs students on constructing sexually graphic artworks.
DeGenevieve won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts (Visual Artist Fellowship); Art Matters Foundation Fellowship; and the Illinois Arts Council. Her critical and artistic works have been published in Exposure, SF Camerawork Magazine, and P-Form. Ezell Gallery, Chicago, represents her photographic work.
DeGenevieve was born in 1947 and died of cancer on August 9, 2014.
- The Boys in Albuquerque (1978-1979)
- True Life Novelettes (1979-1982)
- Large Scale (1981-1985)
- Cliche Verres (1985-1992)
- Large Scale Stretched Fabric & Macaroni (1991-1995)
- Porn Poetry (1996-1997)
- Steven X and Barbara C (1999-2000)
- The Panhandler Project (2004-2006)
- Desperado (2004-2006)