Comprised of Persimmon Blackbridge (b.1951), Lizard Jones (b.1961), and Susan Stewart (b.1952), the Kiss & Tell collective met and formed in Vancouver at the end of the 1980s: a decade marked by the continued marginalization of lesbian and queer women in Canadian art, media, and popular culture. Their landmark photography exhibition Drawing the Line, first held at Vancouver’s Women in Focus Gallery in 1988 and exhibited internationally, drew crowds and launched the group’s decades-long commitment to championing lesbian sexuality, representation, and identities in the nation’s visual landscape.


In Kiss & Tell: Lesbian Art & Activism, author Kristen Hutchinson explores the groundbreaking contributions of the collective alongside some of the most seismic debates in contemporary discourse including censorship, queer bodies and representation, disability, art as activism, and the feminist sex wars. Through a close consideration of the artists’ use of photography, video, performance, and the written word, we learn how, over the course of fourteen years, Blackbridge, Jones, and Stewart challenged the notion that they needed to stay invisible to stay safe from discrimination and prejudice. While Kiss & Tell have often said their works were a reaction to a particular place and time, their oeuvre remains fresh, revelatory, and relevant today.


“Kiss & Tell brought lesbian sexuality out of the closet and into the public realm… with humour, audacity, cleverness, and resilience. The collective created spaces where women could see themselves represented in visual culture through a queer female gaze in ways that had yet to be seen in the Canadian art scene.”Kristen Hutchinson


A detailed look at this trailblazing collective is long overdue, and Hutchinson’s book promises to provoke critical thought around the importance of inclusive representation for lesbian and queer artists for generations to come. Kiss & Tell: Lesbian Art & Activism is the first in the Art Canada Institute’s series celebrating new research on artists who have been underrepresented in Canadian art history.


About the author

Kristen Hutchinson (they/she) is a queer and gender-fluid visual artist, cultural critic, curator, writer, editor, and adjunct professor of art history, feminism, media studies, and popular culture. They received their PhD in the History of Art from University College London in 2007 and have taught courses on different topics in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Hutchinson is a nationally syndicated art and popular cultural columnist at CBC Radio, the editor-in-chief of Luma Quarterly, and the author of two books: Prairie Tales: A History and Monsters No More: How We Came to Love Supernatural Denizens of the Dark. She is currently transforming her research about Kiss & Tell into a documentary film thanks to a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

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