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Dusty St. Amand's First Solo Exhibit Dark Days Celebrates Queer Bodies to Benefit Orlando

Dusty St. Amand's First Solo Exhibit Dark Days Celebrates Queer Bodies to Benefit Orlando

Dusty St. Amand Dark Days

The photographer and Out contributor is making strong statements with his debut solo show.

For photographer Dusty St. Amand, Dark Days, his first solo exhibition, is a hydra of expression. It's a reflection of past woes that fueled creativity. It's an intimate cross section of a body of work that unwaveringly celebrates sex. It's a visual manifesto of an increasingly self-aware artist, whose grasp on vanity and personal branding in our double-tap age helped him focus his energy--and his camera--on things other than himself. Ultimately, it's also an organic response to the horrors of Orlando's Pulse nightclub shooting.

Dark Days unapologetically shows queer bodies at once graceful and erotic, and queer skin in varying colors, creeds, and states of undress. Set in motion last year, when the Leslie Lohman Museum selected St. Amand to show at their Prince Street Project Space during New York's Pride events, it's a retrospective that's suddenly doubling as a timely, inherent form of activism.

SLIDESHOW | First Look at Dusty St. Amand's Dark Days

"My work stands to perpetuate the idea that there is beauty in our bodies and our desires and that we were charged with these impulses for a reason," St. Amand says. "And in light of the recent tragedy, it would seem that my existence as a person of queer fabric is still not seen as equal or just or precious. And all I can think to do in the wake of such oppressive energy is to keep on keepin' on."

Dusty St. Amand's Dark Days

Moreover, 25 % of the proceeds from Dark Days--which debuts with an opening-night reception on Friday, June 24, and will remain on display through Sunday, June 26--will be donated to Equality Florida's Orlando Victims Fund, aiding the families who lost loved ones in the shooting.

Well before he was compelled to take action in response to the greatest blow to the queer community in recent history, St. Amand was an artist of tireless resolve. As implied by its title, Dark Days is peppered with images captured at times when St. Amand was lost or stagnant, derailed by growing alcoholism and frivolous trysts. "The falsehoods in my real life were no longer feeding me like they once had," he says. "The convenience-based relationships, the alcohol addiction, the careless sexual behavior, the dulling of my wants--none of that was doing it anymore. And the camera saw me through all of that."

It also saw him through a major artistic setback last year. Having utilized Instagram as creative outlet, aesthetic medium, personal gallery, and professional workspace, St. Amand--who, at the time, went by the handle @dusterz--saw his platform turn against him, with one too many reports deriding his erotic photography resulting in Instagram wiping his profile clean. It was the digital equivalent of setting an artist's portfolio on fire. And still, St. Amand remained undaunted, launching a new account, @dusterzdeux, on the very next day, and rebuilding his oeuvre chronologically. And he kept shooting.

Dusty St. Amand's Dark Days 2

"The camera was the first thing to ever make me feel in control of expression, and not at the mercy of it," St. Amand says. "So much of what I shoot depicts the freedom of sensuality and sexuality that I at times feel and at times wish to feel. What you're seeing in the images for this show are moments of honest appreciation, obsession, lust, and love." He continues, "I hope that my show can provide a moment of much-needed community for all of us to feel love--and to feel pride."

Dark Daysis on view at the Leslie+Lohman Prince Street Project Space at 127-B Prince Street, New York, NY. Opening reception: Friday June 24, 6-8 p.m. Hours: 12-6 p.m. Saturday, June 25 & Sunday, June 26. For more information, visit Leslielohman.org.

Click here to see a preview of the show

Visit Dusty St. Amand's website, suchdustyphotos.com, and follow him on Instagram @dusterzdeux.

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