Lola Flash Enters the Collection of MoMA

Pen + Brush is honored to announce the acquisition of works by Lola Flash into the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, with support from the Geraldine Murphy Fund. Pen + Brush has proudly supported Flash’s career and we have worked to create exposure and greater recognition for the artist’s 30+ year body of significant work through our program. 

As a 127-year-old publicly funded institution, Pen + Brush uses its complete arsenal of resources to further the careers of women and non-binary artists and writers. We take an artist-first approach, centering all programing and strategy around individual women artists. Pen + Brush exhibits, promotes, publishes, mentors, and supports artists who are creating impactful work that is so engrained in a larger cultural dialogue that to deny it recognition is to perpetuate a corrupt and incomplete canon of the history of art. It is our belief that only when work by women is judged solely on its merit and not the gender of its maker can we accurately reflect our world.  Therefore, this is an especially gratifying moment to celebrate in this major accomplishment and preservation of Lola Flash’s legacy.  

Lola Flash is a photographer, working largely in film, who has been at the forefront of contemporary photography, gender queer visual politics, and activism for the past three decades. Entering into the field at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980’s, Flash has always lent their lens to documenting, emboldening, and celebrating the stories of marginalized people, the ‘other’. Scenes of queer life in London, New York City, Fire Island, N. Y., and Provincetown, Ma., during the 1980’s and early 90’s make up the bulk of Flash’s foundational cross-colour series, a series in which the artist uses experimental processes to invert traditional colors into saturated opposites. These works, some of which are currently on view at Pen + Brush, document the black queer community as if it were a dream, equal parts magical and haunting, highlighting everything from scenes of eroticism and sexual acts to scenes of friends on the beach, all aimed at combatting pernicious stereotypes that plagued society. The series also documents, through scenes of protest, Flash’s life-long commitment to activism and involvement as a core member of ACTUP Fight AIDS and co-founder of Art+. 

Though Flash still works in film (most notably in series [sur]passing and surmise), the artist has ventured into digital photography with recent bodies of work, including their self-portrait series syzygy, the vision (2020) made up of 100 images. With syzygy, Flash takes on universal alter ego, ’syzygy’ the truth-seeker, to examine the far-reaching facets of intersectional disadvantage that manifest through an enduring history of unsettling cultural conflicts and legacies. “This series defines and memorializes a universal cosmos of a conscious past, present, and future as an adaptable contemplation of Afrofuturism for the twenty first century”, says Flash. Ultimately, we see it as the culmination of Flash’s unrelenting hope for the future and belief in photography’s ability to initiate change and progress.