Rosalind Solomon

Rosalind Solomon, Mother and Daughter, Erlanger Hospital, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 1976. Collection Center for Creative Photography, Gift of Etherton/Stern Gallery.
© Rosalind Solomon.

Rosalind Solomon, born Rosalind Fox in Highland Park, Illinois, graduated from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She became involved with Experiment in International Living, an exchange program that took her to Belgium, France, and Japan, where she took up photography in 1968 using an instamatic camera. Having found a gratifying means for personal expression, Solomon purchased a 35mm Nikkormat, set up a home darkroom and began photographing in earnest. From 1974-1976 she studied privately with Lisette Model during intermittent visits to New York City. It was Model who suggested Solomon work with a 2-1/4 x 2-1/4 inch camera in order to master the medium-format she would come to prefer. 

Solomon’s interest in people and their interactions with each other, society, and their environment has consistently informed her work. In 1975 she was invited to exhibit her unflinching humanistic portraits of hospital patients in Tennessee at the Birmingham Museum of Art. After prompting by Model, Solomon took her portfolio to the Museum of Modern Art, where influential curator John Szarkowski purchased some of her prints. Solomon has lived in New York City since 1980, when she was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in photography. A stream of fellowships, exhibitions, and awards has continued throughout her career. Most recently, Solomon photographed in Ho Chi Minh City in 2010 and several of her photographs were featured in the Museum of Modern art exhibition Women: A History of Modern Photography in 2010-2011. 

An ardent traveler, Solomon has preferred to photograph people where they live. She has travelled extensively both in the United States and abroad, where she often gravitated to geographically and culturally remote places in Latin America, India, and Asia. Solomon’s richly descriptive images of sacred or communal rituals and scenes of unusual people in their daily environment are packed with information. When natural light was insufficient, she relied on strobe lights to capture facts or moments which might otherwise be lost. She has been referred to as a visual anthropologist. Solomon has excelled as an outsider able to gain close access to strangers and their lives, seeking and witnessing moments of psychological or spiritual intensity - and we, as viewers, are invited into her deeply personal and sometimes startling images. 

In 2005 Solomon began to organize her extensive archive, which came to the Center in 2007. The Rosalind Solomon Archive contains a key set of over 1,000 fine prints and other art works, which, together with the photographer’s original negatives, transparencies, personal papers, letters, business files, scrapbooks, and other documentation, chronicle her long and productive career in photography.