University of Oregon

Tee A. Corinne papers, 1996-2003

portrait of artist Tee CorinneColl. 263: 48.25 linear ft. (118 containers)

Tee A. Corinne (1943-2006) was a photographer, artist, writer, and lesbian activist. The collection includes correspondence, literary manuscripts, artwork, photographs, artifacts, and other documents that reflect Corinne's life and work.

The finding aid describes the original gift, which covers 1966-2003 (inclusive). Note that a substantial group of additional materials was donated at Corinne's death, in August of 2006, and is now being processed.

Biographical Note

Extended version

Prolific artist, writer and lesbian activist Tee A. Corinne was born in 1943 in St. Petersburg, Florida. She grew up in the South, living in Florida and North Carolina until moving to New Orleans as a young woman. In 1968 she received an MFA from Pratt Institute, but although she was already exhibiting her work throughout the U.S., it wasn't until the early 1970s that Corinne began to explore the feminist and sexual content for which she is best known.

Cover of bookIn San Francisco, Corinne began to work in sex education, ultimately joining the training staff of San Francisco Sex Education Switchboard. In 1975, she photographed women kissing, hugging, and making love. Many of these images were used as the basis for Victoria Hammond's illustrations in Loving Women, one of the first lesbian "sex manuals." Out of her work in sex education, she became aware of the need for accessible images of female genitalia. In November of 1975, she self-published The Cunt Coloring Book, a collection of line drawings of vulvas that is still in print.

In 1977, with publication on the front cover of Sinister Wisdom magazine, Corinne's lesbian sexual graphics reached an international lesbian audience. The erotically-charged image, enlarged into a poster, was a bestseller in women's bookstores into the early 1980s. Around 1977, Corinne began formally researching the history of lesbian imagery in the fine arts. Of the need for lesbian scholarship, Corinne said, "The lack of a publicly accessible history is a devastating form of oppression. Lesbians face it constantly." Her sexual imagery was published in the ground-breaking collections I Am My Lover (1978) and A Woman's Touch (1979). The latter included a solarized image of a nude woman in a wheelchair kissing her able-bodied lover and a fat couple embracing.

Corinne won a Lambda Literary Award in 1990 as editor of the erotic anthology, Intricate Passions. This was followed by three other anthologies and two books of her own short stories, Courting Pleasure (1994) and Lovers (1989). She was instrumental in founding the Gay and Lesbian Caucus, an affiliated society of the College Art Association, a caucus for which she also served as co-chair. Her novel, The Sparkling Lavender Dust of Lust was published in 1991, the same year she was chosen by Lambda Book Report as one of the "50 most influential lesbians and gay men of the decade."

 

From 1991, Corinne continued to make art, publish essays, book reviews, and encyclopedia entries, and write and edit books of short stories and poetry. Her documentary essay, "Lesbian Photography on the U.S. West Coast, 1972-1997," appears on Purdue University's Women Artists of the American West website. Her 2002 book, Intimacies, Photos by Tee A. Corinne, was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. She won the Women's Caucus for Art President's Award 1997 and the Abdill-Ellis Lambda Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Completely Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia, called Tee A. Corinne "one of the most visible and accessible lesbian artists in the world.\"

Small-edition books by Corinne include The Little Houses on Women's Land (2002), Drawing as a Problem-Solving Activity (2002), Wild Lesbian Roses: Essays on Art, Rural Living, and Creativity, 1986-1994 (1997), What Difference Does Poetry Make? (1996), Family (1990), Lesbian Muse (1989), and Women Who Loved Women (1984).

Among her noted photographic series were portraits of lesbian writers and artists, and "Cancer in Our Lives," documenting the impact of terminal cancer of Beverly Brown, founder and director of the Jefferson Center, Corinne's lover from 1989 until Brown's death in 2005. Several months later, Corinne was diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct. Tee Corinne died at home on Aug. 27, 2006.

Images: 1. Portrait of Tee Corinne. 2. Cover of Cunt Coloring Book by Corinne. 3. Corinne reflected in mirror as she photographs Ruth & Jean Mountaingrove, Caroline Overman, Tangren Alexander, and unidentified women at a salon, 1980s. 4. Solarized photograph of two women, by Tee Corinne. All rights reserved.

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