The Mint Museum presents its first online exhibition, featuring 26 photographs from Ruben Natal-San Miguel’s Spring 2020 exhibition at Postmasters Gallery, New York City.
Natal-San Miguel constructed his latest series, Women R Beautiful, as a critique of Garry Winogrand’s 1975 series Women Are Beautiful. Both are, in theory, a census of women on the streets of New York City, but Natal-San Miguel highlights Winogrand’s narrow perspective.
Natal-San Miguel expands the world of beautiful women. His portraits of femininity span all body types, ages, skin tones, and definitions. While he still controls the images and the choices, he shares agency. Most of his women know they are subjects; their names and Natal-San Miguel’s detailed captions personalize the personalities emanating from his photographs. Because of this, any sexuality or personification emanating from the subject is just as much a projection from the sitter as an imposition by the photographer.
Natal-San Miguel also expands the definition of woman, including drag and trans beauty in his splayed fan of femininity. Ongina (Dragcon) has a face composed of such painterly construction, it could be an Ingres nymph. In the electrified texture of her tinseled backdrop, her iridescently speared crown, and her glittery tulled top, her smooth, cinnamon skin and placid expression become an island of contrived repose. If it weren’t for the hints of tattoos on her skin, one could mistake her for a statuesque deity. What is undeniable is her spectacular, careful articulation of femininity.
Text by Jen Sudul Edwards, Chief Curator of The Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.
Ruben Natal-San Miguel : Women R Beautiful
November 24, 2020–June 20, 2021
The Mint Museum
At Levine Center for the Arts
500 South Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC 28202