TILT Institute for the Contemporary Image

Ellen Rosenberg: The Backroom, Lessons in Glamour

September 8, 2020


Artist Talk: Ellen Rosenberg

PPAC Contemporary Practices Certification Program Capstone Presentation

Tuesday, September 8, 7 PM EST
FREE – Donations are kindly accepted

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The Backroom, Lessons in Glamour

For the audience, the drag queens/Kings create a space, in which nothing is as it appears. She is a magician…sexual smoke and feminine mirrors. At the same time, they are challenging all of us to shift our perception of male and female, beyond rigid biological classification. Is it only in the chromosomes?  “Does it matter how one defines themselves sexually?” My intention with this body of work is to initiate a dialog as it relates to a possible fusion of male/female within all of us, and that the “self” lies along this continuum.

I saw my first drag show about 25 years ago and was strictly part of the audience, enthralled with the performance and the ability of these “actors” to transition so beautifully. As I became friends with the individuals within the drag community, I was invited into the back room to observe the transformation. A trust of both my prior photographic work, as well as respect for the performers, gave me complete access to the intimate secrets of who these individuals are, as well as how the transitions occur. I learned the stories of each performer, and what brought them to the stage.


Ellen Susan Rosenberg spent her childhood in the small town of Salisbury, Maryland, on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Ellen currently divides her time between Philadelphia and New Orleans. She holds a degree in Art Advertising from the University of Maryland, a degree in Exercise Physiology from Temple University anda master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Temple University School of Allied Health. At present Ellen is completing her certification in the Contemporary Practices Certification Program at the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center.

Her work has been shown in over 50 juried national art shows, as well as invitational and solo exhibitions.  Ellen has exhibited her work throughout the United States. She has had her work juried into LENS magazine dance issue.( an international photography magazine). Her work is included in the Leslie-Lohman Museum Collection, the William Way Art archives, and private collections. She has been juried into the National Association of Women Artists and is a member of the American Society of Media Photographers and the DaVinci Art Alliance.


The completion of this project would not have been possible without the open and loving support and guidance of the LGBTQIAck  community. I am filled with gratitude and love for all who shared their stories, their secrets, knowing that these photographs and their stories would someday become public.  This community has taught me about acceptance, and taking care of each other as we move through this journey called life. A special acknowledgement goes to Kevin (Phoebe Mantrappe), Lee (King Bryce ) Rob (Ginger Alley Loeser ) , Michael( Pumpkin) who have guided me for years and created entrance into their world of DRAG.