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Sandusky, OhioCatherine Opie

May 2, 2014

From her hometown of Sandusky, Ohio, Catherine Opie wanders the streets with her camera, searching for what she calls “that fine art Americana image.” Touring sites from her childhood, Opie reflects on how her early experiences in Sandusky influenced her approach to photography.

“It’s curious that I end up spending so much time by myself now photographing,” Opie says, “because it’s very similar to how I was when I was a kid—there was a lot of alone time.”

At the site of her father’s former business, a craft supply factory, Opie describes the strong sense of patriotism that existed in her family home. Her photographs of high school football players, Tea Party rallies, and the first inauguration of President Obama demonstrate her own interest in American identities.

More information and credits


Producer: Ian Forster. Consulting Producer: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Interviewers: Wesley Miller & Susan Sollins. Camera: Mark Falstad. Sound: Ray Day & Heidi Hesse. Editor: Morgan Riles. Artwork Courtesy: Catherine Opie. Archival Images Courtesy: Catherine Opie. Theme Music: Peter Foley.

Art21 Exclusive is supported, in part, by 21c Museum Hotel and individual contributors.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Catherine Opie

Catherine Opie investigates the ways in which photographs both document and give voice to social phenomena in America today, registering people’s attitudes and relationships to themselves and others, and the ways in which they occupy the landscape. At the core of her investigations are perplexing questions about relationships to community, which she explores on multiple levels across all her bodies of work. Whether documenting political movements, queer subcultures, or urban transformation, Opie’s images of contemporary life comprise a portrait of our time in America, which she often considers in relation to a discourse of opposition.

“It’s curious that I end up spending so much time by myself now photographing, because it’s very similar to how I was when I was a kid—there was a lot of alone time.”

Catherine Opie

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