Image: © Del LaGrace Volcano (+ Gerard Rancinan), Paris 2004

Del LaGrace Volcano

Del LaGrace Volcano (b. 1957, California), is an activist and visual artist working primarily with photography. Born intersex and living as female for the first 37 years of their life, Del LaGrace now lives as male and female. Within their work, they explore gender fluidity and depict the instability of gender identity, creating works which defy gender norms.

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Self named as a part-time gender terrorist,and intentional mutation, Volcano’s photography has staged the constructedness of gender and the rich diversity of body morphologies available to those who are really willing to look, […] Volcano is exceptional as a photographer and thinker in being concerned to show gender/sex as both highly performative and intimately embodied.Dr. Jay Prosser 

Prior to moving to San Francisco when they were nineteen, Del attended Allan Hancock College as a student in the Visual Studies program from 1977 – 79. They earned an MA in Photographic Studies at University of Derby, UK in 1992 after studying photography at the San Francisco Art Institute from 1979 – 81.

Dels work largely focuses on the performance of masculinity and femininity, frequently including self portraiture as a method of self-understanding and acceptance, as well as a means of celebrating difference.

Self-portraiture was me taking a stand, both for myself and people like me who differ from the norm. Because, while I am the subject of much of my work, it isnt purely about me. […] Im presenting myself in the hope that others like me will understand that their difference is valuable, that they can be out and proud and unapologetic, that they do not have to conform.– Del LaGrace Volcano for The Guardian

Much of Dels work forms an important archive of LGBTQI+ culture and history throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In Love Bites, Del photographed their life in San Francisco and particularly their relationship to late 80s / early 90s lesbian club Chain Reaction. The series proved formative for Del, who regards the work as an opportunity for the community to be seen being seen on [their] own terms.

Deana Lawson

Diana Markosian