Collection Artwork
Steven Arnold (California, 1943 – 1994, West Hollywood, California)
Transmitigating Inspiration
gelatin silver print
paper size: 19 7/8 x 16 in.
image size: 14 x 14 in.
mat size: 24 x 20 in.
The Jack Shear Collection of Photography at the Tang Teaching Museum
Signed in pencil, verso, lower right: Steven Arnold
Inscribed in pencil, verso, lower right: PP

Object Label

Steven Arnold, a multidisciplinary artist, was sometimes referred to by his friends and artistic contemporaries as a “queer mystic.” The mythological costuming and exuberant theatricality of his tableaux photographs share the spirit of the ecosexual rituals performed by Beth Stephens & Annie Sprinkle. In Transmitigating Inspiration, a figure embodying both feminine and masculine traits emerges from a cave-like structure as if born out of a cosmic universe. Caves, which can reference the vagina, also often symbolize portals between worlds and are a frequent motif in Arnold’s work. In his early twenties, he and a group of artist friends took up residence in caves on the island Formentera, off the coast of Spain, where they took LSD daily and explored the surrounding landscape—perhaps influencing his later work. This photograph demonstrates Arnold’s prophetic vision of nonbinary gender and sexual identities that expanded far beyond those that existed in the mainstream in the 1970s and 1980s.
–Caroline Coxe ’20

From the exhibition: Lover Earth
Art and Ecosexuality (May 30 – August 23, 2020)

Ongoing Research

Research on our collection is ongoing. If you have resources you’d like to share, please contact Associate Curator Rebecca McNamara.
Pattern by Emma Fritschel ’19
Inspired by the exhibition Twice Drawn
The Tang Pattern Project celebrates the Museum’s 20th anniversary. Organized by Head of Design Jean Tschanz-Egger, past and current Tang Design Interns created patterns inspired by the Museum’s exhibition and event history.