Amy Elkins explores the nuances of gender identity and masculinity, creating intimate, formal portraits of her subjects. Working in series, she has photographed male ballet dancers, rugby players, and male-identifying individuals in urban and rural Georgia, among others. Through these portraits, Elkins reveals a vulnerability and sensitivity within her subjects, upending socially accepted ideas and standards relating to masculinity.
In 2009 Elkins’ project shifted to consider the many facets of human identity using notions of time, memory, and distance, inspired by her correspondence with several men on death row in America. This ultimately led to the projects Black is the Day, Black is the Night and Parting Words, for which she won the 2014 Aperture Portfolio Prize. Black is the Day, Black is the Night incorporates text, layered and manipulated photographs (obscured digitally according to the amount of time the inmate has been incarcerated), drawings and other ephemera, forcing us to consider the existence of those serving life sentences and the impact this has on their understanding of reality, self-identity, and memory.
Born in Venice, California, Amy Elkins is currently based in the Greater Los Angeles area. She received her BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her work has been exhibited in numerous major institutions including the Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna, Austria; the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; Aperture Gallery, New York; and Houston Center for Photography, among others.
Elkins has completed several residencies, including the Latitude Artist-in-Residence, Chicago (2014); Villa Waldberta International Artist-in-Residence, Munich, Germany (2012); and Lightwork Artist-in-Residence, Syracuse, NY (2011). She won the Aperture Portfolio Prize in 2014, and The Peter S. Reed Foundation Grant in 2015. Elkins' book Black is the Day, Black is the Night was Shortlisted for the 2017 Mack First Book Award and the 2016 Paris Photo Aperture Foundation Photobook Prize.