FEARLESS: Portraits of LGBT Student Athletes

Featuring Jeff Sheng

For 13 years, American artist Jeff Sheng has been photographing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) student athletes in the United States and Canada as part of a photo and exhibition series called FEARLESS. Between 2003-2015, Sheng photographed over 200 of such athletes, and exhibited the project in more than 60 venues that have traditionally not hosted art exhibitions, such as university athletic facilities, college student centers, and the headquarters of companies such as Nike and ESPN. The series was just published as a personal memoir and photography book with an afterword essay by retired NBA basketball player Jason Collins. Photoville will be the first New York exhibition of Sheng’s FEARLESS project that introduces the work to a broader art world audience.  In this exhibition, the artist acknowledges the multiple forms that photography can take, particularly activist inspired work that can have deep societal significance in one context, but then also viewed as “art” in another.

Jeff Sheng is an American artist whose photographic work over the last decade has focused on the 21st century LGBT rights movement. His photographs have been featured in international publications, including The New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, Time Magazine, Newsweek, and The New Yorker. Since 2006, his photo series, the Fearless Project, has been exhibited at over 70 different venues, including the headquarters of Nike and ESPN, as well as select locations at the 2010 Winter Olympics and the 2012 Summer Olympics. His other well known series, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (2009-2011), about closeted United States military service members, was profiled in 2010 by the New York Times, ABC World News Tonight, and CNN.