Photo: Greg Gorman



John Waters


Waters has a unique incisive voice that carries through his films, writing, and other projects. He is also a collector who encourages artists to follow their own passions, however strange or unpopular they may be. 

Known as the “Pope of Trash,” John Waters made a name for himself writing and directing often transgressive cult films such as Pink Flamingos, Female Trouble, and Hairspray. Waters has also authored a number of books, including Shock Value and Role Models. His latest book, Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder, was published in spring of 2019. Waters was born and raised in Baltimore, where many of his films are set.
John Waters letter scan.jpg



[ Transcript ]


[ letterhead John Waters ] 10/21/19

Dear Young Artists,


When I was about ten years old, I bought a Miro mass produced print at the Baltimore Museum of Art for a dollar or so and took it home to hang on my bedroom wall at my parent's house. I thought it was beautiful but the other neighborhood kids hated it. "It's ugly!", "You're nuts!", they howled. "Why would you put up something so stupid?" another demanded. That's when I realized the power of contemporary art. Make work that causes trouble and delights few. That's art's job. It's yours too.

[ signed ] John Waters