Little Hall’s Golden Auditorium was filled with students and faculty last Wednesday, February 19, for a lecture by Associate Professor of Art & Art History Linn Underhill. Following a warm introduction by Associate Professor of Art & Art History Lynette Stephenson, Underhill began to discuss her artistic ideals and inspirations and displayed photographs from her exhibits, past and present.
Underhill, who is going into phased retirment at the end of this year and has been teaching photography at Colgate since 1992, spoke about how her work helps her connect with her surroundings. She discussed the idea of triangulation, which is the technical process of determining one’s location by measuring angles from it to known locations.
“Photography helps me figure out where I am in the world,” Underhill said, discussing what she believes are the three major components of photography: camera, operator and impulse. The impulse, she explained, is the person controlling the camera.
At the lecture, Underhill displayed work spanning her career while discussing pivotal times in her life that shaped her work. From the death of her father to discovering factors of her identity, Underhill’s autobiographical information
provided during her lecture added to and explained much of the thinking behind her photographs. Most of her photographs deal with sexuality, and one particular series features her dressed in both male and female drag; her works also explore the power differential between men and women,
particularly as expressed through popular photography.
Following her talk, attendees gathered for a reception in honor of her exhibit “Close to Home,” which opened in the Clifford Gallery. The works in the collection, which will be on exhibit through April 4, primarily belong to one of three series.
“Plenty” documents memories and moments in a collage-like fashion as Underhill incorporated entire proof sheets instead of selecting one or a couple of images to represent a time in her life. Also examining elements of the everyday is “One Year.” In this series, Underhill photographed landscapes over time, chronicling the passing of seasons from April of 2011 to April of 2012.
The third series in Underhill’s exhibition is “Oregon Hill Portraits.” This body of work, comprised of portraits of Underhill’s neighbors, proves particularly poignant, given its timeliness.
“[It] signals a shift in my social focus as I prepare for my retirement,” Underhill said of “Oregon Hill Portraits,” her latest series. Underhill wrote, “[The series] began as an overdue attempt to get to know my neighbors,” some of whom she has lived near for almost 30 years. However, as Underhill’s work moves away from Colgate’s hill, she has shifted her focus closer to home.