Legends Series - Lynn Whitney: ‘Make It Small, See the Silver’

BOWLING GREEN, O.—Photographer Lynn Whitney has spent most of her life paying attention and documenting what she sees on film. Whitney, head of the photography division in the School of Art, will reflect on her body of work and her philosophy in a talk called “Make It Small, See the Silver.”

Part of the BGSU Legends series celebrating some of the University’s most accomplished arts faculty, her talk will begin at 5 p.m. Monday (Oct. 13) in the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts. It is free.

Using a large-format camera and working in black and white, Whitney has used the elements of photography — as she says, “frame, light, moment, time and point of view” — to capture intimate family scenes from her children’s younger years and document the construction of a large bridge-construction project over the Maumee River, for the Toledo Museum of Art. She received a prestigious commission in 2009 from the philanthropic George Gund Foundation in Cleveland to photograph the lakefront in Cuyahoga County for its annual report. Water has often been part of her photos, from the Maumee River behind her Waterville house to the lakes of the Midwest.

More recently, Whitney was selected to be part of “Off the Radar” on Time magazine’s online Light Box photography site. Guest curator Mark Steinmetz, now a prominent photographer whom she has known since their student days at Yale University, chose four of Whitney’s photos from several bodies of work done in Massachusetts in the late 1970s and early 1980s to be part of an exhibit of women photographers whose work has perhaps not received the attention it deserved. The photos include portraits of young nuns, a woman soldier in a wintry woods, and a snowy yard where a white dog sits, camouflaged by the snow.

“I am interested in what anchors us here — the land, ritual and communities. I don’t have a road map for my life and I think I make pictures really to find my way,” Whitney said.

A native New Englander, Whitney has taught at BGSU since 1987. In her Legends talk, she will share some of that journey with her audience.