The Motherfucking First Amendment

American Gothic Revisited

Gowanus Darkroom is proud to feature the work of Leslie Lyons and her image, The Motherfucking First Amendment, now on view at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati thru March, 2016. The group show, AFTER THE MOMENT: Reflections on Robert Mapplethorpe, presents work from photographers who are carrying on the Mapplethorpe vision and includes images by Sally Mann, Joel-Peter Witkin and over 30 select artists. You can celebrate this work with us while also supporting the darkroom by purchasing a print.

50% of all sales from December 15 thru January 15 will go to Gowanus Darkroom!


Below is Leslie’s Artist Statement - also on view at the CAC - along with another image, American Gothic Revisited, from this project which is also being offered here.

The Motherfucking First Amendment Artist Statement
Upon receiving the assignment to create an image reflective of Robert Mapplethorpe, I decided that only a full investigation of the kind of culture Mapplethorpe created with his photographs would suffice as a starting point for my own work. Bringing society-at-large under the same gaze as counter-culturalists (himself included), Robert Mapplethorpe explored and presented the body politic of his time. Issues of race, gender, age, sexual personae and artistic practice were filtered through a complicated vision quest for beauty and truth alongside the very notion of freedom that feels as mysterious today as it does bold. With the hope of bringing that vision forward, I set to work and have produced six shoots to date for this project. Along the way, I was introduced to Louis Sirkin, Cincinnati’s celebrated First Amendment lawyer who defended the CAC against obscenity charges prompted by the original Mapplethorpe retrospective, and learned about his winning arguments and continuing challenges to protect our right to free speech. Sirkin's latest client is Forest Thomer, a Cincinnati cultural provocateur who is presently engaged in his own battle for First Amendment rights. With his self-proclaimed stance as a ‘Motherfucker’, Thomer uses language to create an interventionist moment so he can engage in dialogue with people about what is a legal and potent right that all citizens of the United States should claim and defend.


Prints are being offered in two sizes: (all prints made at Gowanus Darkroom) 11”x11” printed image, matted to frame 15”x15” - OPEN Edition - $350

18”x18” printed image, matted to frame 24”x24” - LIMITED Edition of 5 - $800

To order, simply send payment to via PayPal with

Image name:
Address for shipping (You can either pick up prints at Gowanus Darkroom after January 15 or ship. Shipping will be billed separately according to your delivery preference).