Linda Connor

Spiral Journey
At the Photo­graphic Resource Center.

(Orig­i­nally published in The Boston Phoenix, November 1990)

Spiral Journey is arranged as a spiral, and as you circle around and around, you pass by the same places again and again ‑‑ spirals, veils, beams of light shining into a dark place, open doors, closed eyes, hands. The same images repeat and recur in Connor’s body of work, but each time you see them, they mean some­thing different. Each time you see them, they mean some­thing more.

Since 1967, Linda Connor has trav­elled all over the world, taking pictures. But her photographs aren’t just a romantic record of exotic places; they are the unveiling of a spir­i­tual journey.

Her earliest photographs were still lives, strange mystical combi­na­tions of pictures and objects ‑‑ a medical chart covered with leaves, the Birth of Venus over­laid with seashells, a cham­bered nautilus laid onto a book that shows a photo­graph of the same shell on the facing page.

In the 70s, Connor began to travel with an 8x10 view camera to ancient land­scapes marked by ritual and myth. Her photographs ‑‑ silver gelatin prints exposed by sunlight and treated with gold chlo­ride solu­tion ‑‑ show petro­glyphs and prehis­toric stones, piles of bones in a cata­comb, sacred pools in Hawaii, a tree in Japan that grows in knotty spirals, a beam of light in a holy cave, canyons in Colorado, a maze on the floor of Chartres Cathe­dral, and an ancient stair­case that spirals up to the sky in Macchu Piccu, with great misty moun­tains in the distance. In India, she focuses more on the people ‑‑ a blind musi­cian, a woman whose face is hidden behind a thick black veil, and oracle in a trance, her eyes ecsta­t­i­cally closed.

Connor travels with a camera, not to capture images of faraway places, but to partic­i­pate in the sense of the sacred that those places embody and evoke. She brings back pictures that show you places out in the world that resonate with her inner land­scape ‑‑ her dream land­scape. Woman Entwining a Tree with Sacred Threads, India shows a woman, veiled in white, entwining a tree with threads that spiral round and round the trunk of an ancient tree. Entwined Buddha, taken in Thai­land, shows a Buddha’s head completely over­grown into the sinuous roots and branches of a tree. Even a snowy back­yard in Belmont, Mass­a­chu­setts is a place of mystery and awe.

In Connor’s camera’s mystical eye, the world is filled with ancient sacred things.

by Rebecca Nemser for

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