An internationally exhibited fine art photographer, Linda Griffith expresses in her work a sophisticated grasp of the medium’s temporal underpinnings, as well as of subconscious compositional elements. A Fulbright scholar in theatre and award-winning playwright, Linda has coupled her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Directing to her Master’s Degree in Social Work and psychotherapeutic expertise to enrich her life-long work in photography every step of the way. Drama’s premise of conflict opposed by a Rankian homage to fear of inertia and the problem death presents to human consciousness is evident throughout her career. Her images are noted for an existential edge that transforms street and landscape captures, equally, into rare, visual experiences. As critic, Daniel Sean Kaye put it: “…beautiful, dramatic, haunting work.”
In 1999, a jury of New York museum directors and curators honored Griffith as “…one of the most talented emerging artists at the turn of the century and the millennium” for her violent image entitled “Not Everything Is Forgivable,” typical of her bold execution of photographic images in that period that “reported” on psychic states in documentarian style while simultaneously relying on extensive manipulation. While masterful in producing graphical statements reflecting painstaking adjustments that trade on the medium’s unique power to depict and comment on the human condition (e.g., “Dialogue with Government”), Griffith is now equally celebrated for minimally edited landscapes that inexplicably grip the viewer in near-hypnotic states of engagement.
When asked what it is about “The Secret Life of Light,” (a portfolio of 75 remote arctic landscapes five years in the making) and the emerging portfolio of Sonoron Desert images entitled “Spirit Walk”, that imbues seemingly innocuous landscapes with such a startling, gripping quality, she explains:
My work is about time, and time is clearly about vibration. Whether or not we consciously perceive the sound emanating from a photograph or the light emanating from a concerto, both exist in all experiences of art. I try to bring a particular vibratory state of responsiveness into my handling of the camera, its direction, focus, and the rhythmic repetition of exposures-- entering the energy field of the subject.
Like the rock on a riverbank that can report to the sensitive mind of a Native American details from centuries of activity that the rock has witnessed in that place, a photograph contains a vibrational imprint of the history passing through the lens from landscape to viewer on light and sound waves. While for most photographers, interaction with these waves is a subconscious process, great photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson, for example, have composed, I believe, with a mindful self-eradicating transparency. They bring line, tonality and shape into the frame because they hear the songs of those elements in concert with not only a focal point, but within the whole of the living moment on which the shutter is opening as an extension of the photographer’s own vibrational, egoless dance within the energy of the scene.
I constantly seek to entrain myself with the vibration of what I’m seeing, hoping to become personally invisible in service to the light and sounds channeling through the lens. This is something psychotherapists do all the time when ”getting on the same wavelength” with clients, the process having been first identified by Virginia Satir and developed by Grinder and Bandler, authorities in the practice of hypnotic induction. When I am successfully “in synch” with the landscape, I’m able to bring to the viewer an image that is actually alive on the wall and radiating in present time subconscious information from that place.
While considered by some to be “woo woo”, entrainment is fairly well understood scientifically. Karl Pribram, in the late 1970’s, was among the earliest neurobiological researchers to grasp the visual entrainment phenomenon which he described using the metaphor of a hologram projected onto the surface of the brain by stimulus passing through the central nervous system. Entrainment is a prerequisite to empathy and, as an artist, I experience this phenomenon within a spiritual paradigm, especially when in the presence of terrain as profoundly communicative as the arctic.
I’ve been told this portfolio is mesmerizing and that is evidence to me that, in fact, the vibrational entrainment state in which it was created is presently manifesting in the viewer, opening a channel through which the subject of the image is speaking beyond the constraints of gallery time and space. This is, quintessentially, the unique power of photography over every other medium. It’s why one of the earliest consumer applications involved families commissioning photographs of their dead. The Native American disdain for photographs is similarly based on the belief that they contain the stolen spirit. Consider our own rush to the shoebox full of snapshots at the time of a loved one’s death: it is to feel the life still held in those images.
As a child I spent hours “entering into” snapshots carefully preserved in my mother’s photo album, and it’s from that marrow-deep understanding of vibration out of which I now create. Specifically, “The Secret Life of Light” is a portfolio that uses these principles in concert with the tenants of ecopsychology to entrain the viewer to the healing vibrational state of the subject landscape.
Griffith’s work has drawn the attention of respected museums, including the Center for Maine Contemporary Art which featured two images from “The Secret Life of Light” in the museum’s 2010 Biennial Exhibition. Similarly, The Noyes Museum, Philadelphia Sketch Club, and Woodmere Museum have all exhibited her work. Katherine Ware as the Curator of Photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2003 chose Griffith as the recipient of the Shaun Miller Memorial Award for her simple but, again, disturbingly evocative image entitled “Homestead,” in retrospect, a clear foreshadowing of the increasingly haunting “The Secret Life of Light” and “Spirit Walk”.
It would appear that in the last decade and a half, Griffith’s talent has fulfilled the millennial promise expressed by some of the most respected authorities on fine art photography: “complex”, “disturbing”, “transformative”, and “unprecedented” are among of descriptors frequently applied to her artistic vision of supraconscious imagery consistently expressed in prints that speak with startling intimacy.