From documenting late-apartheid South Africa to the American South, New York-based photographer Rosalind Fox Solomon takes candid portraits exploring social dynamics and the human experience.Read More
Born in Highland Park, Illinois to Jewish parents, Rosalind Fox Solomon's Midwestern upbringing was shaped by discrimination towards her religious identity—an influence evident in her images of the oppressed and outcast. After graduating from Goucher College, Baltimore, the artist married and moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In 1968, Fox Solomon took up photography after she bought a camera to document her travels to Japan, Thailand, and Cambodia. Returning home, the artist began to develop and print her photographs. The process of developing photographs remains a key aspect of the artist's work. As Fox Solomon once said, 'the print is the picture.'
In the early 1970s, Fox Solomon began to develop an interest in a photographic career under the private tutelage of street photographer Lisette Model, whom she would periodically visit in New York.
Fox Solomon's early work in the 1970s focused on portraits of people, dolls, and mannequins. Her first series came from a year-long project photographing patients at the Chattanooga hospital. Many works in the artist's oeuvre since have looked at life in the Southern United States. Fox Solomon's book Liberty Theatre (2018) is a compilation of images taken throughout the artist's career that explore race, class, and segregation in the American South.
Beyond examining American life, Rosalind Fox Solomon's photography has taken her around the world. First travelling to the Guatemalan Highlands in 1978, the photographer took an interest in themes of survival and ritual, both secular and Shamanic.
In the 1980s, Fox Solomon began photographing the earthquake-ravaged Ancash region of Peru, a location she continued to visit for the next 20 years. She also spent six months in India during the early 1980s, photographing religious celebrations and influential figures like Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the Dalai Lama.
In 1987, the AIDS crisis rocked the United States. Hoping to help remove the exclusionary stigma attached to the disease, Fox Solomon took humanising photos of the young men and women afflicted by HIV, alongside their loved ones.
In the 1990s and 2000s, global concerns with secular and ethnic violence brought Fox Solomon to places like Poland, Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, and late-apartheid South Africa. Her photographs focused on examining the legacy of oppressive histories. These were offset by lighter moments, including capturing the New Orleans Mardi Gras back home.
Fox Solomon's book THEM (2014) presents photographs and accompanying texts that tell the stories of people living in the West Bank and Israel—the outcome of a visit undertaken in 2010 for the project, This Place.
Alongside Rosalind Fox Solomon's photography and books, the artist also experiments with mixed-media installations, film, and poetry. Her installation Adios (1984) recreates the raised tombs of Ancash with photos, sounds, and objects. Since the 1990s, she has performed her own texts and poetry for audiovisual installations. Fox Solomon's A Woman I Once Knew (2010) was awarded Best Experimental Short by the New York Film and Video Festival.
Rosalind Fox Solomon's solo exhibitions include Them, Picker Art Gallery, Hamilton, New York (2018); Rosalind Solomon: American Photographs 1974–2001, Musée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon sur Saône, France (2005); Chapalingas, Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Cologne (2003); Portraits in the Time of AIDS, Grey Art Gallery, New York (1988); Ritual, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York (1986); and India, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C (1982).
Rosalind Fox Solomon's group exhibitions include Noir et Blanc – une esthétique de la Photographie – collection de la Bibliothèque nationale de France, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris (2020); Greater New York, MoMA PS1, New York (2015); This Place, DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, Prague (2014); Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography, MoMA, New York (2010); Photography in Latin America: A Spiritual Journey, Brooklyn Museum, New York (1996); American Dreams, Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (1987); and American Children, MoMA, New York (1981).
Rosalind Fox Solomon's website can be found here.
Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2021