Justine Kurland: Girl Pictures

October 26, 2022 – February 2023

The most celebrated series in the artist’s oeuvre thus far, Kurland’s Girl Pictures (1997–2002) is emblematic of teenage experience. Started in New Haven, Connecticut, the series tells a fictional story of an empowered community of young women. 

By documenting teenage girls as rebels at play in bucolic frontier landscapes, the series offers a feminist recasting of vagabond narratives like Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (1957) in photographs made between Connecticut and California—including New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Colorado, Arizona, and Texas among others. 

Kurland took to the American road on solo trips over five years beginning in 1997 while attending graduate school at Yale University. Living out of a van, the artist befriended various groups of local girls across the country, explained her photographic series, then dressed, staged, and photographed the invented, utopian scenes. The complete series of 69 works is loosely grouped into themes including camps, tents, and forts; animals; balls and games; boy torture; grooming and erotics; rivers, roads, forests, and coastlines; and large groups. A fully illustrated catalogue is available for purchase in the Museum Shop. 

Acquired by the Wadsworth in 2022, this monumental series will be installed in the museum’s contemporary art gallery through February 2023.