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Friday, September 15, 2006

Pioneer of Erotic Lesbian Art,
Tee A. Corinne Dies

(Exerpted from an obit on GLINN available here)

Artist and author Tee Athelston Corinne died August 27, 2006, in Sunny Valley, Oregon, her home for the past twenty-five years. Hers was a dignified death, surrounded by friends, admirers, and students, after a six-month battle with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare and untreatable cancer. Corinne was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1943. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of South Florida in 1965, and her Masters in Fine Arts from Pratt Institute in New York in 1968. Additional studies were pursued at the Newcomb Art School of Tulane University and the Henry Street Settlement in New York City. She was a teacher of art and writing, most recently at Rogue Community College.

Tee A. Corinne © 2006 Susanne Petermann
Last Portrait of Tee A. Corinne, taken July 27, 2006

“Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia,” called her "one of the most visible and accessible lesbian artists in the world."

Susie Bright (also known as Susie Sexpert) said: "She is the beginning of lesbian erotic photography, and her influence is inestimable....She has created the most lasting images of lesbian eroticism, the vulva landscapes, the crayon-colored cunts, the solarized lesbian embraces, the portrait of her scowling lover in a starched white shirt."

Corinne burst into national awareness in 1977 with the publication of the third issue of the magazine “Sinister Wisdom.” A poster of her solarized cover photograph of two women making love became required decoration for dorm rooms, apartments, and homes all over lesbian nation. The San Francisco Bay Area knew Tee even earlier, with her publication of the “Cunt Coloring Book” in 1975. As late as 1999, the Traditional Values Coalition sent copies of the “Cunt Coloring Book” to members of Congress calling it filth and pornography, in an effort to discredit James Hormel during the hearings on his appointment as ambassador to Luxembourg. (A copy of the coloring book is in the James Hormel Gay and Lesbian Reading Center at the San Francisco Public Library.)

In 1965, Corinne began exhibiting her artwork. Her work featured sexual, especially lesbian, imagery starting in the 1970s, when she worked with the San Francisco Sex Information Switchboard. Her artwork and writing began appearing in the lesbian and feminist press in 1974, including over fifty book covers for Naiad Press. Some of the magazines which published her work are “Sinister Wisdom,” “Heresies,” “Calyx,” “Maize,” “Libido,” “A Woman’s Touch,” “off our backs,” “On Our Backs,” “Yellow Silk,” “Cupido,” “Bad Attitude,” and “WomanSpirit.” The album cover of Holly Near’s "Imagine My Surprise" features a Corinne portrait; Corinne also contributed artwork to albums for Suede and Musica Femina.

>From 1979 to 1981 she co-facilitated the Feminist Photography Ovulars (as opposed to seminars), and was co-founder of “The Blatant Image, A Magazine of Feminist Photography,” which grew out of the Ovulars.

Among her books of images are “Women Who Loved Women” (1984) and “Yantras of Womanlove” (1982). She produced dozens of chapbooks of her drawings. Her work is discussed in the books “The Contest of Meaning” (1989), “Stolen Glances: Lesbians Take Photographs” (1991), “Forbidden Subjects” (1992), and “Nothing But The Girl” (1996).

In 1983, she began her career as a writer of erotica, contributing stories to magazines and anthologies. “Dreams of the Woman Who Loved Sex,” a collection of stories, appeared in 1987, followed by “Lovers” in 1989, and the novel “The Sparkling Lavender Dust of Lust,” 1991. Corinne edited several anthologies of erotica, one of which, “Intricate Passions,” won a Lambda Literary Award in 1990.

Corinne read papers at numerous conferences, including as a featured speaker in 1988 at the National Women in Photography Conference, the Berkshire Conference on Women and History, the Northwest Women’s Studies Association, and the National Women’s Studies Association. A founding board member and past co-chair of the Queer Caucus (originally the Lesbian and Gay Caucus) of the College Art Association, she was also a national board member of the Women’s Caucus for Art.

Among her many honors was the 1997 Women's Caucus for Art "President's Award for Service to Women in the Arts." A lifelong activist in the women's and lesbian and gay rights movements, Corinne is the subject of an entry in “The Queer Encyclopedia of the Visual Arts,” as well as in the book “Uncommon Heroes.” In 2000, she received a Lambda Award for lifetime service from the Abdill-Ellis LambdaCommunity Center in Ashland, Oregon.

Corinne's art has appeared in shows at the Berkeley Art Museum at the University of California ("In a Different Light," 1995) and the ArmandHammer Museum in Los Angeles ("Sexual Politics," 1996). Some of her artwork will be included in "Wack!" in April 2007 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. A permanent archive of her work and papers has been established at the University of Oregon in Eugene. An index to this body of work is available online through Northwest Digital Archives.

Writer and social activist Beverly Anne Brown, Corinne’s partner of sixteen years, died of cancer in October 2005. Their ashes will be interred in a double plot at Granite HillCemetery in Grants Pass, Oregon.

In the months after her diagnosis, Corinne completed two major projects. “Lesbian Art Issues: Variations on Queerly Appealing Themes,” a collection of her essays, will be published in 2007 by Haworth Press. "Scars, Stoma, Ostomy Bag and Portacath" is a compact disk compilation of manipulated images of photographs she made during Brown's struggle with cancer. The CD was sent to friends and contacts in the art world. It may be viewed online at

A permanent collection of her papers and work has been established at the University of Oregon in Eugene. A finding aid to the core collection is available online in the Northwest Digital Archives database of finding aids at: Additions to the collection are being acquired and will be added to the collection but are not currently available.

Contributions in her memory can be made to UO Foundation/Libraries, with "In memory of Tee Corinne" in the memo line, and should be mailed to the Library Development Office, 1299 University of Oregon, Eugene OR 97403-1299. Alternately, the Tee A. Corinne Prize for Lesbian Media Artists has been established.

Tax-deductible contributions to it can be made to Moonforce Media, PO Box 13375, Silver Spring, MD 20911.

View some her images/art?


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