Larry Sultan grew up in California’s San Fernando Valley, which has become a source of inspiration for a number of his projects. His work blends documentary and staged photography to create images of the psychological as well as physical landscape of suburban family life. Sultan’s seminal book and exhibition Pictures From Home (1992) is a decade long project that features his own mother and father as its primary subjects, exploring photography’s role in creating familial mythologies Using this same suburban setting, his book, The Valley (2004) examines the adult film industry and the area’s middle-class tract homes that serve as pornographic film sets. Sultan’s images negotiate between reality and fantasy, domesticity and desire, as the mundane qualities of the domestic surroundings become loaded cultural symbols.
Larry Sultan has pushed the boundaries of photographic practice since 1977 with the publication of Evidence, a collection of found institutional photographs created in collaboration with photographer Mike Mandel. His work has been exhibited and published widely and is included in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon Guggenheim Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Art to name a few. Sultan is a professor of art at California College of the Arts in San Francisco.
Portland State University’s Art Department offers free public lectures every Monday night of the school year. This is the twentieth lecture of the fourth year of the PMMNLS. The PSU MFA Monday Night Lecture Series is supported in part by PICA, Reed College, Lewis and Clark College, and The NW Film Center.