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Odyssey: The Photographs of Linda Connor at the RISD Museum of Art

PROVIDENCE, RI — As depicted by Linda Connor, even the humblest subjects are radiant. Odyssey: The Photographs of Linda Connor, on view through October 31, 2010, at The RISD Museum, reveals this internationally renowned artist’s 30-year aesthetic journey to diverse contemplative settings in the U.S., Egypt, India, Nepal, Southeast Asia, Turkey, and Tibet. Connor studied photography at RISD and graduated with her BFA in 1969.

Connor embraces a wide range of subject matter, often capturing sites of mystery and reflection that connect the physical and spiritual world and that address human aspirations and nature’s entropy. Whether focusing on devotional sites and monuments, the natural world, or the spirit embedded in the mundane, her visually compelling images project a combination of timelessness and a palpable sense of age and transformation. Just as sacred art evokes deep meaning without explicit explanation, Connor’s photographs serve a similar metaphoric function, capturing and distilling meaning from everyday life, such as in the purposeful way people arrange their surroundings, or how light can transform a space.

Connor’s distinct technique includes the use of a large-format view camera, which allows her to achieve remarkable clarity and rich detail. She creates prints using the sunlight in her garden and the direct contact of the eight-by-ten-inch negative on printing-out paper. Toned and fixed with gold chloride, Connor’s prints achieve a warmth, luminosity, and delicacy seldom found in standard photographic printing.

Odyssey presents some 70 photographs and includes some of Connor’s best-known work from the past three decades, along with more recent works that have not previously been on view. Connor was personally involved with many aspects of the presentation, including the sequencing of the images to guide viewers into making unexpected associations, providing a more poetic way to view her images.

“We are honored to have this opportunity to bring Linda Connor back to RISD through this special presentation of her work” commented Jan Howard, the Museum’s Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. “Her work is greatly admired in this community and we are excited to co-sponsor her lecture with the RISD Photography Department in their T.C. Colley lecture series this October.”

Linda Connor (American, b. 1944) studied with Harry Callahan at RISD and with Aaron Siskind at the Institute of Design in Chicago. A California Bay Area resident, she has been an active force in the region’s photographic community as an esteemed instructor at the San Francisco Art Institute for more than 40 years and as the founder of PhotoAlliance, a non-profit organization supporting contemporary photography. She has exhibited widely in the U.S. and abroad and has been published in numerous books, journals, and catalogues. Her work is held in major museum collections, including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; and is well represented in the collections of The RISD Museum. She has been recognized with Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, among other awards.

The RISD Museum of Art, a world-class museum in Providence, RI, was founded as part of Rhode Island School of Design in 1877. Its permanent collection of more than 84,000 objects includes paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, costume, furniture, and other works of art from every part of the world, including objects from Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, and art of all periods from Asia, Europe, and the Americas, up to the latest in contemporary art. In addition, the Museum offers a wide array of educational and public programs to more than 100,000 visitors annually.

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