Remembering Mary Ellen Mark

The sad news is the passing of photographer Mary Ellen Mark at the age of 75. She had taken JT LeRoy’s portrait to accompany the Tom Waits interview in Vanity Fair magazine, and for a recent exhibition at SF Cameraworks, Laura wrote this text to accompany the picture:


“I wrote Sarah and several other works of fiction under the pseudonym JT LeRoy. JT was a persona I created, asbestos gloves for material I couldn’t stand to touch. JT was the living expression of that pain. To me, he always wanted a body. It was physical, like contractions in childbirth. But in person, the body had no eyes. Behind the wig and the sunglasses was a stand-in, an avatar, an enactment, a living mask.

“I was 17 years old and living in a group home when I saw Mary Ellen Mark’s movie Streetwise with some other teenage girls who were also in exile from their families. When Vanity Fair wanted a photograph of JT, I asked that Mary Ellen Mark take the photos. She understands the language of suffering and loss: loss of childhood, loss of a child. I knew she would get JT.”