- Corinne, Tee, 1943-2006
- Tee A. Corinne papers
- to be calculated linear feet, (373 containers)
- Collection Number
- Coll 263
- Tee A. Corinne (1943-2006) is 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.
- University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives.
1299 University of Oregon
- Access Restrictions
Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.
Collection includes sound recordings, moving images, and digital files to which access is restricted. Access to these materials is governed by repository policy and may require the production of listening or viewing copies. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary. Glass plate negatives and lantern slides are restricted due to the fragility of the format. All decisions regarding use will be at the discretion of the curator for visual materials.
- Additional Reference Guides
- Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Historical NoteReturn to Top
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.
Corinne had a turbulent childhood. Her mother and stepfather were alcoholics. At age three-and-a-half, she was diagnosed with tuberculosis. She spent three months recovering in a nursing home and nineteen months with her grandparents in Yankeetown, Florida, where she grew to love country living. She was not permitted to resume normal activity until age eight.
As a teenager, Corinne became aware that she was attracted to both men and women. At boarding school in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, she discovered that she thrived in an academically and artistically rigorous environment. At graduation, she won the school's art award and a National Journalism award for work on the school newspaper.
Early in 1965 in Florida, Corinne became involved with Robert Kamen, a folk musician from Queens. In December she moved to New York City with him and they married ten months later. Corinne worked as an editorial assistant for a trade magazine and attended graduate school at Pratt Institute where she earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in 1968.
Interested in sexual imagery by "great masters" of art history since first seeing it in New Orleans, Corinne began around 1968 to locate books containing these images. Such books had previously been censored by the United States government. She experimented with sexual imagery in her own art, beginning with photographs of heterosexual couples kissing and moving on to drawings of her own genitals, a subject for which she could find no other models.
In 1969, having finished a year of postgraduate work in sculpture, Corinne and Kamen moved to Connecticut where he attended graduate school and she taught college art, made life-size figure sculptures, and became increasingly depressed. Corinne stopped making art when the couple moved to San Francisco in 1972 and separated in 1973. Work with acclaimed therapists Bob and Mary Goulding brought an end to the depression.
Over the next year and a half, Corinne came out as a lesbian. She began making art again, this time boldly committed to using explicit sexual imagery. Recognizing that her sexual art could not be exhibited in traditional art galleries, Corinne sought out alternative venues such as women's coffeehouses, bookstores, and lesbian bars. Her images were frequently published in the emerging feminist press.
In 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 that same year, Corinne entered her first long term relationship with a woman, photographer Honey Lee Cottrell, with whom she often collaborated on imagery and shows. They remained together until 1977.
After the well-known photographer Ruth Bernhard counseled her to photograph famous people or, "You will have a basement full of [photographs of] your friends," Corinne began a series of portraits of lesbian writers and artists.
In 1976 Corinne and Cottrell met Ruth and Jean Mountaingrove, publishers and editors of WomanSpirit magazine. That summer they visited the Mountaingroves at Golden, a gay owned, communal, rural land in Southern Oregon. On this trip, Corinne realized it was possible to live close to the land without sacrificing contact with a vibrant artistic community.
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.
During the later 1970s and early 1980s, Corinne gave presentations about lesbian sexual imagery in art and about her own art, traveling with a slide show around the U.S., to Canada, and to Mexico. In 1979, she became lovers with Caroline Overman, one of the editors of WomanSpirit magazine, a relationship which continued, with breaks, until 1984.
Corinne spent a year and a half in Brooklyn (1979-1981) where she participated in art shows in Manhattan. In the summer of 1981, she relocated to Southern Oregon. Between 1979 and 1981, Corinne co-facilitated Feminist Photography Ovulars, low-tech workshops held at Rootworks, Southern Oregon women's land. With Ruth and Jean Mountaingrove, Caroline Overman, and others, she co-founded The Blatant Image: A Magazine of Feminist Photography (1981 to 1983).
In 1980, Corinne was one of ten openly lesbian artists to be honored in The Great American Lesbian Art Show (GALAS) at the Women's Building in Los Angeles. Two years later, her book of stylized lovemaking images, Yantras of Womanlove came out. The structure of the imagery, collaging explicit pictures into forms that made pattern more dominant than subject matter, gave a degree of safety for viewing still-taboo activities.
Between 1984 and 1988, her companion was author Lee Lynch. Encouraged by Lynch, Corinne completed a collection of erotic stories, Dreams of the Woman Who Loved Sex, in 1987; its first print run sold out in six weeks. In 1984, Corinne began to make art out of her experiences growing up in an alcoholic family. Exhibited as Family, the mixed media paintings received regional acclaim.
In 1989 Corinne began a relationship with author and rural activist Beverly A. Brown, founding editor of Maize magazine, a relationship which would continue until Brown's death in 2005.
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."
After 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 (http://www.sla.purdue.edu/waaw/). 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, calls 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).
Corinne died in Sunny Valley, Oregon on August 27, 2006 after a struggle with liver cancer. She was 62 years old. Moonforce Media created the Tee A. Corinne Prize for Lesbian Media Artists in 2006 to annually honor Corinne as an artist with bold vision and a fierce dedication to encouraging and preserving lesbian art. The award furthers Corinne's wish that individual lesbian artists be financially supported to work independently and without censorship.
Corinne, Tee A. The Sex Lives of Daffodils: Growing Up as an Artist Who Also Writes. Wolf Creek, OR : Pearlchild, c1997 Sherman, Phillip and Samuel Bernstein, eds. Uncommon Heroes. Fletcher Press, c1994 Queer arts.org. "Obscurely Famous," an interview with Tee Corinne. September 1998. (August 27, 2003). Online at http://www.queer arts.org/archive/9809/corinne/corinne.html
Content DescriptionReturn to Top
The Tee A. Corinne papers document the life and work the influential lesbian writer, artist, and activist and contain correspondence, writing, artwork, photographs, and audiovisual presentations created Corinne and her contemporaries. The collection also contains documentation regarding exhibits of Corinne's artistic and literary work, as well as her participation in conferences and various community, activist, and artistic organizations.
The correspondence series includes personal, business, and organization correspondences, mailing lists, emails, and correspondences regarding the Tee A. Corinne estate. Photographs removed from individual letters by archives staff for preservation purposes are also included in this series.
The writing series documents Corinne's literary works and contributions. Materials include novel and short story manuscripts, essays, poetry, research material, and published books. Literary manuscripts include commercially published and unpublished works, at various stages of the publishing and printing process. Formats include typed manuscripts, publishers' mock-ups and galleys, as well as printer's transparencies. Correspondence may be included with related works. Book and booklet designs include self-printed and published books written by Corinne, some associated manuscripts maybe be found in the literary manuscripts subseries. Anthologies, edited books, contributions, and periodicals includes books edited by Corinne, collection and anthology books with writings by Corinne, books with contributions by Corinne including artwork, illustrations, or photographs, and articles written by Corinne published in periodicals. Book reviews contains book reviews by Corinne of works by other authors. Book reviews of Corinne's works can be found in Series 9.3 book reviews by others.
The book covers and graphic design series contains books with cover designs by Corinne, and other instances of graphic design work by Corinne. In addition to cover design, some books in this series also include author photographs and illustration work by Corinne. Other graphic design work includes poster and album cover design, flyer design, as well as Corinne's experimentation with computer generated images.
The traditional media artwork series contains drawings, prints, mixed media works, paintings, and sculpture by Corinne. Sketchbooks are also included in this series. Drawings includes works in pencil, ink, pastel, charcoal, felt tip, and crayon on a single sheet or board. Original illustrations for The Cunt Coloring Book and Good Vibrations: The Completed Woman's Guide to Vibrators, by Joani Blank, among other works, are included in this subseries. Prints includes linoleum, intaglio, lithographs, halftone, and woodblock relief prints. The majority of these prints seem to have been created by Corinne while still a Master of Fine Arts candidate at the Pratt Institute in New York. Examples of mixed media work primarily includes collages and copy art with felt-tip and metallic pen, or oil pastel and acrylic. More traditional mixed media pieces, such as those done in ink and watercolor, are also present in this series. Mixed media works include Corinne's series Family and Women Who Loved Women. A small number of paintings are included in this series, the majority of these being watercolors created in the latter half of Corinne's career. Sketchbooks include bound and unbound collections of sketches, primarily done in pencil, pen, and charcoal. Some of these sketchbooks are printed novels later adorned by Corinne. Finally, a few small examples of Corinne's sculpture work are also included in this series.
The photographs series includes photo prints, slides, compiled photo albums, as well as negatives and contact sheets created by Corinne. Personal and family photographs can be found in Series 5: Personal papers, Subseries 5.4: Personal and Family Photographs. Prints include photographs on paper of Corrine's portraits, documentary photography, digital photographs, still life's, figures, and landscapes, series and portfolios, collages, project materials, and Polaroids. The portraits in this series are particularly numerous and include images of prominent lesbian artists and writers, members of Corinne's community in New York, San Francisco, and Oregon, as well as her family, lovers, and friends. Documentary photography depicts life on Oregon's lesbian lands and the Feminist Photography Ovulars facilitated by Corinne. Significant series and portfolios include Boko Maru Dancers, In Search of a Lavender Muse, and Yantras of Womanlove . Slides include projectable versions of many of Corinne's print works, which she used in presentations throughout the United States and Canada. Corinne's most famous projects, including those mentioned above, are included this subseries. Albums include compiled volumes of Corinne's photographs. Negatives and contact sheets include undeveloped and pre-print versions of Corinne's work.
The exhibition, conference, and organization materials series includes documentation of art exhibitions and events featuring or hosted by Corinne. This series also contains the records of organizations in which Corinne participated or founded. Exhibits and events include press, flyers, mailings, programs, and publications related to art exhibitions, literary gatherings, and activist events. Conferences, presentations, and workshops includes material delivered by Corinne particularly those on subjects related to lesbian and feminist art and history. Conference material, encompassing annotated programs, flyers, mailings, and nametags, is also included in this series. Organization records and newsletters contains publications, publicity materials, catalogs, and organizational records of artistic, feminist, lesbian, and activist organizations of interest to Corinne. Records relating to the Southern Oregon Country Lesbian Archival Project (SO-CLAP!) and The Blatant Image: A Magazine of Feminist Photography can be found in this series.
The audiovisual materials series contain audiovisual material in various formats (cassette, CD-R, DVD-R, videocassette, vinyl, and film) relating to Corinne's personal and professional life. Video recordings include footage of art exhibits, literary events, interviews with Corinne, films with lesbian or feminist themes, as well as home movies. Audio recordings include music, mix tapes, dictated letters, radio programs, interviews, and panel sessions. The 8mm films include the 1979 film, Rag Doll, as well as home movies from Corrine's childhood.
The personal papers series contains material of personal nature not associated with Corinne's professional life and career. Biographical materials include biographical and artist statements written by Corinne and others, press releases, award announcements, CV's and resumes and other biographical material. Juvenilia and student material include papers, projects, master's thesis, and diplomas and certificates from Corinne's studies from secondary school through college. Family history material includes research, writings, photographs, letters, and genealogical information on Corinne's family history, genealogy, and lineage. This personal and family photographs contains photographs of Corinne growing up and throughout her life, her extended family, and historical photographs of distant relatives acquired through Corinne's genealogical research. This subseries also contains personal photographs from Corinne's adult life. Financial and legal records include documents relating to publishing and royalties, finances, and Corinne's estate as well as other legal matters. A significant portion of this subseries contains material relating to Valerie Taylor. This artifacts and personal ephemera include awards, art, and other personal and professional ephemera owned by Corinne. Examples of artifacts in this collection include anatomically-correct" dolls used in a Sappho-centric love story, an animated slide show, and a saltshaker Corinne used for the cover design of the Naiad Press edition (1984) of The Price of Salt . Date, address, and message books include address books, date books, phone message books, and rolodex cards with addresses. Newspaper clippings include clippings of relevant subject matter to Corinne's life and works. Subjects include feminist and lesbian topics, Oregon Ballot Measure 9, the arts, and family history.
The collected writing and artwork by others series contains material created by others, the majority of which is writing and artwork, including photography. Literary manuscripts and publications include writings and publications by others and includes a variety of formats including literary manuscripts, poetry, essays, published works, self-published works, and other formats. Artwork by other artists in various formats including drawings, prints, photographs, painting and others can also be found in this series. Book reviews by others contains book reviews written by others. The majority of the reviews are for works by Corinne. Periodicals and journals include materials found in, or taken from periodicals and journals not by Corinne. Some materials contain annotations by Corinne. Solicited material contains art and information by and about other artists collected by Corinne for various projects, and use agreements for the material. Artist slides consist of 35mm slides of photography and artwork by others.
Notable contributions to this series include a substantial number of the literary works of Caroline Overman; literary works by Lee Lynch; an instructional book on self-publishing by Barbara McFadyen and Marilyn Gayle; collections of music like those by Janna Macauslan or by Marilyn Gayle; and poetry by poets such as Julie Hopp. Other works include those by authors Joyce Cheney, Sarah Aldridge, and Robin Jordan, among others. Researchers should be aware that these documents can be found Series 2. Writing, particularly if Corinne contributed to the work artistically.
Use of the CollectionReturn to Top
Property rights and copyrights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives.
[Identification of item], Tee A. Corinne Papers, Coll 263, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon.
Administrative InformationReturn to Top
The Tee A. Corinne papers are intellectually arranged in nine series:
1. Correspondence, 1858-2007 (bulk 1974-2007)
2. Writing, 1955-2007
3. Book covers and other graphic design, 1976-2005
4. Traditional media artwork, 1930s-2006 (bulk 1962-2006)
5. Photographs, 1959-2006 (bulk 1963-2006)
6. Exhibition, conference, and organization materials, 1970-2007, undated
7. Audio visual material, 1978-2005, undated
8. Personal papers, 1835-2007, undated (bulk 1940-2007)
9. Collected writing and artwork by others 1880-2005, undated (bulk 1970-2005)
Series 1. Correspondence is arranged in three subseries:
1.3.Photographs removed from correspondence, 1974-2001
Series 2. Writing is arranged in four subseries:
2.1. Literary manuscripts, 1955-2007, undated
2.2. Book and booklet design, 1975-2001, undated
2.3. Anthologies, edited books, contributions, and periodicals, 1975-2003, undated
2.4. Book reviews, 1981-2003, undated
Series 4. Traditional media artwork is arranged in six subseries:
4.1. Drawings, circa 1960s-2004 (bulk 1963-2004)
4.2. Prints, circa 1960-2004, undated (bulk 1962-2004)
4.3. Mixed media, 1930s-2000s (bulk 1976-2002)
4.4. Paintings, circa 1970s-2000s, undated
4.5. Sketchbooks, circa 19960s-2006 (bulk 1963-2006)
4.6. Sculpture, circa 1960s-2000s
Series 5. Photographs is arranged in four subseries:
5.1. Prints, 1959-2006, undated (bulk 1970s-2005)
5.2. Slides, 1966-2006
5.3. Albums, 1974-2006
5.4. Negatives and contact sheets, 1963-2004
Series 6. Exhibition, conference, and organization materials is arranged in three
6.1. Exhibits and events, 1970-2004
6.2. Conferences, presentations, and workshops, 1974-2006
6.3. Organization records and newsletters, 1970-2007
Series 7. Audiovisual material is arranged in three subseries:
7.1. Videotapes, 1987-1991, undated
7.2. Audio recordings, 1978-2005
7.3. 8mm films, circa 1960s-1980s
Series 8. Personal papers is arranged in eight subseries:
8.1. Biographical material, 1979-2007, undated
8.2. Juvenilia and student material, 1962-1974, undated
8.3. Family history material, 1869-2005, undated
8.4. Personal and family photographs, 1835-2004, undated (bulk 1940-2004)
8.5. Financial and legal records, 1926-2007 (bulk 1968-2007)
8.6. Artifacts and personal ephemera, 1951-2006, undated
8.7. Date, address, and message books, 1978-2006, undated
8.8. Newspaper clippings, 1945-2006, undated
Series 9. Collected writing and artwork by others is arranged in six subseries:
9.1. Literary manuscripts and publications, 1930-2005, undated (bulk 1974-2005)
9.2. Artwork, 1970-2005, undated
9.3. Book reviews by others, 1976-2002
9.4. Periodicals and journals, 1970-2004
9.5. Solicited material, 1975-2003, undated
9.6. Artist slides, 1880-2003, undated (bulk 1968-2003)
Gift of Tee A. Corinne, 1998.
Collection processed by Aggie Agapito, Aika Kihunrwa, Emily Glenn, Carrie Bertling, Rose Nunez, and Veta Schlimgen, 1998-2006. Revisions and additions to the collection completed by Emily Haskins and Alexandra M. Bisio, 2021.
This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for revisions in arrangement and description.
Related collections in Special Collections and University Archives include:
- Beverly Brown papers, (Coll 318)
- SO CLAP! (Southern Oregon Country Lesbian Archival Project) records (Coll 266)
- WomanShare records (Coll 269)
- Ruth Mountaingrove papers (Coll 309)
Associated collection: Tee Corinne (200437), Special Collections, Lesbian Herstory Archives, Brooklyn, New York.
Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top
|Guide to the Tee A. Corinne papers|
Names and SubjectsReturn to Top
- Artists' books (books)
- Gay press
- Lesbian artists--United States--20th century
- Lesbian authors--United States--20th century
- Lesbian community--Oregon
- Lesbian erotica
- Corinne, Tee, 1943-2006--Archives
Form or Genre Terms
- Art photography
- Drawings (visual works)
- Mixed media works
- Relief prints