Linda Lindroth's Polaroid Portraits at the New Haven Museum
Address: 114 Whitney Ave., New Haven, CT 203-562-418
Address: 114 Whitney Ave., New Haven, CT
Photo: Amos Doolittle, Plan of New Haven, 1824, New Haven Museum
The New Haven Museum (NHM) recently acquired four new additions to its permanent collection. The large-scale, colorful portraits of distinguished community members are, in some ways, what one might expect to find hanging in a historical museum, but with one significant difference. Rather than paintings of Industrial Age businessmen or Revolutionary War heroes, the portraits are over-sized Polaroid photographs by Linda Lindroth, an artist who has lived and worked in New Haven since 1984. The artist’s donated works, and others on loan, will be included in a new exhibition, “Instants: Linda Lindroth’s Polaroid Portraits,” opening December 7, 2022.
The eight portraits feature figures hailing from the worlds of visual art, education, architecture, and theatrical performance who have contributed to and been inspired by the city of New Haven. The images were captured in the late 1980s and early 1990s with a Polaroid 20 x 24 camera, a camera so rare only five were initially manufactured.
The subjects of the photographs traveled to the Polaroid studio in Manhattan. The camera itself was large and cumbersome and was moved around the studio on wheels by a technician. Some of the portraits were taken for expected reasons: milestone birthdays, professional achievements, in anticipation of the birth of a baby. Others were staged as part of a specialized series.
“As an art form, 20 x 24 Polaroid photographs are quite different from anything else in the NHM collection,” notes NHM Collections Manager Mary Christ, who organized the exhibition. “But in terms of style, subject, artistry and significance, there are many parallels between the portraits on view in the “Instants” exhibition and portraits in NHM’s existing collection.” Noting those relationships, Christ has paired each of the eight Polaroid portraits with an analogous work in the NHM Online Collections Catalog which visitors can access by QR code.
Lindroth was a participant in the Polaroid Artists Support Program, which began in the 1960s. Polaroid provided cameras and film, free of charge, to photographers; in turn, the photographers would submit their resulting artwork to the Polaroid Collections Committee.
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New Haven Museum
114 Whitney Ave., New Haven, CT USA