Linda Connor | American, 1944 -
Linda Connor has lead a creative life devoted to photography. With her large format camera, she has traveled in Africa, Southeast Asia, Nepal, India, Turkey, Mexico, Tibet, the American Southwest, and Europe exploring sites that evoke mystery and spirit. She is known for her luminous and iconic photographs and fascination with culturally sacred sites and landscapes. Her artwork reveals the essence of her subjects, yielding a sense of timelessness while visually evoking the intangible. She uses a distinctive technique: a large-format view camera allowing her to achieve remarkable clarity and rich detail. Her prints are created by direct contact of the 8x10-inch negative on printing-out paper, exposed and developed using sunlight. Toned and fixed with gold chloride, the prints have a warmth, luminosity, and delicacy seldom found in standard photographic printing.
After studying with revered American photographers Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind, Connor went on to a distinguished teaching career at the San Francisco Art Institute, where she has taught undergraduate and graduate students since 1969. Although her work has been widely exhibited and published, her forthcoming monograph, Odyssey is a comprehensive and cohesive collection representing thirty years of her photographs. She has composed a sequence to guide viewers into making unexpected associations, providing a poetic way to view her images. This collection seems to dislodge our sense of linear time, concrete place, and documentation. The cumulative experience may be about tranquility, spirituality, meditation, or discovery.
Connor embraces a wide-range of subject matter, connecting the physical and the spiritual world. Just as sacred art evokes deep meaning without always an explicit understanding, Connor hopes her photographs serve a similar metaphorical function. Upon entering Chartres Cathedral, for example, one feels as though they are brought into another realm, regardless of their religious beliefs. Connor's images share this transformative nature as they transcend the boundaries of subject, culture and time. She brings an equal amount of attention and respect to a rock in the desert as she does when she photographs a temple.
Her photographs also capture elements of tradition in everyday life; such as the purposeful way people arrange their surroundings or the power of light to transform a space. The complex relationship between photography and time also figures centrally in her work. How can a photograph be made at a specific moment and yet represent an indistinct, ageless quality? Connor encourages this ambiguity, promoting a porous view of time.
Amongst her images are prints she has made from nineteenth-century astronomical glass plate negatives from the Lick Observatory archives. These images inspire contemplation of the spiritual and the scientific, culture and nature, and wonderment and knowledge.
Connor is the recipient of three National Endowment for the Arts grants and a Guggenheim fellowship. Her work can be found in the collections of Art Institute of Chicago; Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Linda Connor is also the president and founder of PhotoAlliance, a nonprofit organization that supports the understanding, appreciation and creation of contemporary photography.