Born in 1959 in San Gabriel, CA, Aguilar lives and works in Rosemead, CA, outside of Los Angeles. She has studied photography at East Los Angeles Community College and has participated in the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. She has received grants from Art Matters Inc., LACE, the California Arts Council and Lightworks. She has had a number of solo exhibitions at venues including the Los Angeles Photography Center, CA; LACE, Los Angeles, CA; Highways Performance Space, Santa Monica, CA; Zone Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, England; and the Fundacio la Caixa, Barcelona, Spain. Her work has been included in many group exhibitions, including Sunshine et Noir: Art in L.A. at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark; Sexual Politics: Judy Chicago’s “Dinner Party” In Feminist Art History at the Armand Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; In a Different Light at the University of California, Berkeley; and Bad Girls at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. She also participated in the Aperto Section of the 1993 Venice Biennale.
Photographer Laura Aguilar has investigated portraiture since she emerged in the late 1980s. Her stark black-and-white photographs document subjects whose images and stories are under-represented in mainstream culture—people of color, gays and lesbians and large people. Her portraits are known for their collaborative sensibility—the subjects are encouraged to investigate and negotiate with the artist from both sides of the lens. In the late 1990s, Aguilar turned the camera on herself, making dramatic nude self-portraits in which her body is contrasted with the rough terrain of the desert landscape and in which the body and landscape become one. The works continue her efforts to challenge societal assumptions about beauty, offering an alternative to the airbrushed, artificial depictions of women generated by advertising and media.