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professor soukhakian opens ‘queer in utah’ at blue sky

Mar. 5, 2024

Queer in Utah

USU Associate Professor Fazilat Soukhakian’s award-winning photography project, Queer in Utah, will be exhibited at Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, Oregon, opening with a public reception Thursday, March 7, 5-8pm.

Professor Soukhakian grew up in Iran, where she witnessed her LGBTQ+ friends and relatives face severe discrimination and fear—not only from the authorities but also from the community. After moving to Utah, Soukhakian says she was shocked to find that the LGBTQ+ community in certain regions of the US experienced similar struggles and challenges.

In response, Professor Soukhakian says she began the Queer in Utah project in 2019 to “help normalize the LGBTQ+ community in the conservative setting of Utah.”  Soukhakian collaborated with friends and LGBTQ+ community members, photographing couples in affectionate poses and local outdoor settings, with each portrait made in a style resembling the heteronormative engagement and family portrait photography that is widely popular across the state.

Queer in Utah will run through March 30 at Blue Sky. A digital exhibition catalog is available online. Soukhakian will give an artist talk at the gallery on Saturday, March 9 at 2pm.

Soukhakian has has received wide acclaim for Queer in Utah, both in Utah and abroad. In addition to the exhibition at Blue Sky, the project was recently exhibited at the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA) and will be the subject of an upcoming solo exhibition at FotoNostrum Gallery in Barcelona in April 2024.  In 2023, Soukhakian won the Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Women Photographers, and Queer in Utah was listed in the Photolucida Critical Mass TOP 50 in 2022. Queer in Utah has also been featured in stories by L’OEil de la Photographie and Salt Lake City’s KSL News.

Blue Sky is one of the premiere photography galleries in the Pacific Northwest. Founded in 1975 as the Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts, Blue Sky seeks to inspire and build community between contemporary photographic artists and audiences. The gallery presents 20-25 exhibitions annually, maintains a public research library, and offers artist talks and programs.

Blue Sky is located at 122 NW 8th Avenue, Portland OR 97209. The gallery is open Wed-Sat, 12-5pm. For more information, visit:

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