From Two Worlds, Linda Connor’s sixth solo exhibition with Haines Gallery, pairs two seemingly divergent perspectives. The first is The Olson House portfolio, in which she photographs the Olson House, a 200-year-old farmhouse made iconic through the paintings of Andrew Wyeth. She infuses this well-known site that is rife with Americana with her unique approach to the mystic and sacred. The second revisits Connor’s well-known, pictures of spiritually charged sites, but these works are newly displayed as large-scale photographs, printed on silk bringing to bear a presentation that encourages an immersive reassessment of her content and intention.
The Cincinnati Museum of Art commissioned Connor to photograph the Olson House in 2006 and subsequently displayed a selection of her images alongside watercolors and drawings by the American painter Andrew Wyeth. Wyeth chronicled the Olson House and its inhabitants – siblings Christina and Alvaro Olson – in a number of works, including his seminal 1948 painting Christina’s World. While Connor references specific paintings by Wyeth, she also approaches this aging space through the lens of American photographic history, evoking Charles Sheeler, Walker Evans, Paul Strand and her own early photographs. As art historian Wanda M. Corn explains, “Wyeth’s Olson House was often melancholy and wistful, a site of human decay and hardship; Connor’s Olson House is mysteriously alive and animated.”
The silk hangings on view represent a new strategy for interpreting both Connor’s older and more recent works, taken in countries including Cambodia, Bali, Egypt, Peru, India and Australia. Connor utilizes this large-scale, flowing medium to consider a wide-range of subject matter. In addition to her works on silk, Connor continues investigating alternative methods for displaying her photographs through the artist’s book. Her accordion book presents details of a mural depicting Avalokitesvara – the bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas – located in a fourteenth-century meditation cave in Ladakh, India, alongside images of the surrounding landscape. The book’s format allows the viewer to simultaneously take in various details of this elaborate painting with remarkable views of the Himalayas.
Connor is the recipient of three National Endowment for the Arts grants and a Guggenheim fellowship. She has had solo exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago; and Center for Creative Photography, Tucson. Her work is included in significant international collections including The Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Modern Art, New York; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and Victoria & Albert Museum, London. In 2008, Chronicle Books published Odyssey: The Photographs of Linda Connor in conjunction with a traveling exhibition honoring the last thirty years of her career. A pillar of the Bay Area’s photographic community, Connor has taught at the San Francisco Art Institute for over forty years and, in 2002, founded PhotoAlliance – a non-profit organization dedicated to the understanding, appreciation and creation of contemporary photography; she currently serves as president of the organization. This exhibition coincides with a monograph of The Olson House published by Datz Press.