BIOGRAPHY

 

 

     The artist recalls that her career as a photographer began in 1957 at the age of six when, in her tiny hometown of Rockledge, Pennsylvania, a neighbor shot a deer and hung it upside-down from the gable of his garage to be gutted. She, crying and horrified by the sight, captured it with her recent Christmas present: a powder blue Kodak Brownie, a camera she was given after her father’s Ansco Readyflash was repeatedly found under her bed and left with zero exposures remaining. The neighbor managed to procure a print from the child’s father and had it published in the weekly newspaper where his violence was widely congratulated, infuriating Linda who, in creating the image, intended to document the waste of a precious animal’s life.

     Fast forward forty-two years later to the inclusion of “Not Everything is Forgivable” in the the 1999 international “Art At the Millennium” Exhibit” where a jury of New York museum directors and curators named her “…one of the most talented emerging artists at the turn of the century and the millennium” for her depiction of the gruesome death of a goose appearing to be blown apart mid-air, clearly a partner to the gutted deer. Two years later, her image of a dear killed by the road was removed from a gallery due to it's "inflammatory nature". Without question, her compassion for all things living and the welfare of the environment forms a fundamental through-line in her life-long work as a photographer.

     An only child born to blue-collar parents in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Linda first surprised her art teacher with a pencil-drawn self-portrait of near-photographic accuracy completed in the second grade. She was accelerated through elementary school, skipping fourth grade, and began receiving honors for exceptional talent in art, writing and leadership. Aspiring, to-the-core, to be a Renaissance woman (which largely informs the breadth and complexity of her creative work), Linda learned woodworking from her father, studied accordion for more years than she will admit, began composing musical scores, taught herself to play the banjo then built an award-winning five-string instrument from scratch. At Lake Erie College in Ohio, she discovered the darkroom and began printing her own images late into the night while completing a major in psychology in under two years. Intrigued by the living nature of images on the stage, she then completed a major in theatre,  following which she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study in Poland with the world renown director, Jerzy Grotowski. She graduated as a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honors from Lake Erie College in 1972.

     Unfortunately, her passion for photography was disrupted when she developed an acute allergy to developer fumes, forcing a halt to her work. During this time, however, she traveled through Europe and lived for several months in Amsterdam near the Rijksmuseum where she studied the light-imbued masterpieces of Dutch painters. In Paris, she pursed a deeper understanding of the rhythmic implications of cubism in literature, creating a film based largely on the visual translation of a literary style developed by Gertrude Stein. Linda is the founder of The Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia where her vision as a photographer informed extensive explorations of the mise-en-scene while writing, directing and producing original ensemble work. (Today the Wilma Theatre is an anchor institution on Philadelphia’s Avenue of the Arts.)

     In 1976, Linda moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where she worked with iconic feminist playwright, Megan Terry, composing for Terry the score for “1001 Horror Stories of the Plains.” Shortly thereafter she founded in Omaha The Orielle Women’s Cultural Center for the development and performance of feminist art. It was during this Second Wave of the Women’s Movement that she created, in 1977, her historical photographic portfolio of the First International Women’s Year Conference held in Houston, Texas― a portfolio housed in the digital archive of the State University of New York in Binghamton and with a first public offering of the prints planned for the 40th anniversary of the event in 2017.

     Driven to better express the complexity of psychosocial dynamics that inform her photography, the creative process, in general, and ethical issues surrounding human and animal abuse, Linda pursed a Master Degree in Clinical Social work at the University of Nebraska from which she graduated in 1979 and delved deeply into professional advocacy on behalf of the frail institutionalized elderly. Not surprisingly a whistle blower, she spent 5 years engaged in a federal lawsuit against the government in which she ultimately prevailed in defense of her constitutional right of expression in protecting vulnerable populations. Drawn equally to hospice, during the 1980’s, she undertook the beginnings of a fifteen-year-long spiritual apprenticeship with a Lenni Lenape Clan Mother who taught Linda the skills needed to enlarge her perception to include vibrational forces that shape not only the natural world, but our interactions within and beyond it. This tutelage forms the underpinning of her evolving imagery, producing the profoundly spiritual landscapes evident today in “The Secret Life of Light”.

     With the advent of digital photography in the late 1980’s, Linda exuberantly returned full time to photography and her work began gaining recognition through multiple awards and exhibitions, among them the inclusion of her artist’s book entitled “Hatboro Imagined” in the Franklin Furnace Artist’s Book Collection of the Museum of Modern Art and dual images from “The Secret Life of Light Portfolio” featured at the esteemed Center for Maine Contemporary Art 2010 Biennial. In addition to founding Magic Pond Artists’ Retreat and Wildlife Sanctuary in Aroostook County, Maine and twice winning the Maine Short Play Festival award, Griffith’s photograph “Homestead” was awarded the Shaun Miller Memorial Award by then Curator of Photographs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Katherine Ware. She has twice won awards in the International Photographer’s Forum Competition; as well as in the Hasselblad Austrian Super Circuit photographic competition held in Linz, Austria.

     Refusing to be constrained to a single genre, her unity of creative vision underlies images probing both landforms and psychosocial terrain. Her style is spare, refraining from any shape, or line that is not quintessential to the expression of the irony and mysteries radiating from the subject. Her inherent understanding of dramatic structure both visually and temporally derives from a deep personal connection she has with the passage of time as the primary medium in which she works, expressing both dissonance and accord with the ever-present promise of death.

     About the place death holds in her work she has written:

I have a memory of nearly drowning in the ocean when I was about a year and a half old. Not that I lacked an awareness of death before that (I believe that we are all born wearing the suspicion of our demise like an umbilical cord tangled around our necks from which we unsuccessfully struggle to free ourselves throughout our lives), but that in that moment of near-death from which I was rescued by my mother, I was set on the course of paying respectful homage to those conflicting, yet cooperative, forces of dying and living. Through all the years following that traumatic tumble beneath the waves, I have remained utterly fascinated with time, having stepped out of it and back in by accident as a child.

 

     During 12 months in 2008-2009, Linda traveled deep into the Alaskan arctic where she created 20,000 images from which the 75 comprising “The Secret Life of Light” were chosen and meticulously edited over a five-year period. A powerful integration of her visual, dramatic, spiritual gifts, “The Secret Life of Light” documents a glacial world soon to be lost. It is both a beautiful and haunting body of work captured largely north of the 66th parallel with an ethereal quality not found in the plethora of digital landscapes littering  the genre. Of growing interest currently is an evolving portfolio of desert landscapes entitled “Spirit Walk” emerging from the region surrounding her home in Tucson, Arizona.

     In 2014, Linda founded “Art of Random Kindness,” a charitable model project in which artists and patrons partner to place valuable works of art in underserved neighborhoods and into the hands of nonprofit organizations. She has also embarked on a second artist’s book project including all the images from “The Secret Life of Light” in a signed and numbered self-published edition.

 I’m driven by the fear that I will die before I’ve done what I’m here to do. I keep striving to say 'The One Thing' that will fully celebrate my brief moment on the planet for having been about gratitude and wonder― an affirmation of life despite the suffering. I want the earth to know, unequivocally, how much I have loved being in a body in her wondrous world before it is time for me to slip away from both.