CLOSE UP: Lydia Panas – Sleeping Beauty

Photographic portrait of reclining women on green grass with dark hair and yellow blouse

© Lydia Panas - Monae

Shutter Hub member Lydia Panas is a visual artist working with photography and video. All her work is made in the fields, the forests, and the studio of her seventy-acre farm in Pennsylvania. The connection she feels to this land and her family is the foundation of her work.

Panas’ work has been exhibited widely in the U.S. and internationally at venues including Artists Space (New York), National Portrait Gallery (London), Philips Collections (Washington D.C.) and Zendai Museum of Art (Shanghai). Her photographs are represented in public and private collections and her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, and Hyperallergic, among other publications. Two monographs of her earlier work have been published, Falling from Grace (Conveyor Arts, 2016) and The Mark of Abel (Kehrer Verlag, 2012), which was named a best coffee table book by the Daily Beast.

Panas has degrees from Boston College, School of Visual Arts, and New York University/International Center of Photography. The recipient of a Whitney Museum Independent Study Fellowship and a CFEVA Fellowship, she has been an Artist-in-Residence at MASS MoCA, Banff Centre for the Arts, and a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome.

Her third monograph, “Sleeping Beauty” draws on psychoanalysis and feminism, to explore issues of power, vulnerability, and trust through portraits of women and girls intertwined with the photographer’s gaze, in a subversion of photography’s power relations.


Photographic portrait of reclining woman, on grass, with dark hair and dark purple dress

© Lydia Panas – Amrin

Photographic portrait of reclining woman on green grass, with dark hair and green blouse

© Lydia Panas – Rong

In an interesting reversal of roles, my gaze and that of the models’ are intertwined, incorporating the viewer as a participant in an often uncomfortable connection. While my subjects do in actuality turn their gaze towards me, it’s as if at times I turn the camera onto myself, both in the present and back in time. My subjects lie down, a metaphor for the position women have been placed in historically. But they look out with self-awareness, in a way that implies a lack of complicity.


Photographic portrait of reclining women on green grass, with blonde hair and pink blouse

© Lydia Panas – Carmen

Photographic portrait of reclining women, on green grass, with dark hair and yellow blouse

© Lydia Panas – Ava

“Sleeping Beauty” (MW Editions, 2021), with texts by Marina Chao (Curator), Maggie Jones (New York Times Magazine), and Monae Mallory (Poet) was released by MW Editions in December 2021

For exhibitions, speaking engagements, and commissions please contact the artist.

To find out more about Lydia’s work or to get in touch visit her Shutter Hub portfolio here, see her website here and follow her on  Instagram.



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