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Sanctuary: New Work By Linda Alterwitz

Jun 11, 2021 — Feb 11, 2022

The concept of sanctuary, though often idealized, is rarely acknowledged as fleeting and subjective. Sanctuary: New Works by Linda Alterwitz explores notions of refuge with an interdisciplinary approach and great psychological depth. Replete with photographs featuring landscape and architectural imagery, brain scans printed on gauze, simulated wind, and a musical score composed by Christian Tamburr, Alterwitz’s installation feels like embarking on a journey inside one’s own mind. From moment to moment, the rhythmic flapping of gauze and gentle driving melody of Tamburr’s score serve as reminders that psychological states are temporary, constantly ebbing and flowing depending on external stimuli. This experiential installation reminds the viewer that change is required for personal growth, and that exploring one’s vulnerability is necessary for healing. Ask yourself: What do I need to feel safe and grow? 

Linda Alterwitz’s photographs feature mysterious landscapes and blurry, abstracted images of homes. When paired within an exhibition, these types of images imply the push and pull within each person’s internal and public life. In the context of this exhibition, they also serve as potential locations of refuge or conflict; it is hard to separate the two. Take for example the nylon sutures adhering the brain scans (electroencephalograms) to Alterwitz’s photographs. The scans are visual representations of individuals’ brain activity while they are distressed. Affixing the scans to images with sutures simultaneously implies healing as well as trauma. While the two are inextricably bound to one another, there is great optimism in Alterwitz’s drive to create a space of safety and healing within her exhibition. Her continued dialog with medical professionals, including work with internal medical residents and graduate nursing students at the Mayo Clinic, underscores her commitment to helping others find peace.  

The painterly, emotional quality of Linda Alterwitz’s photographs is informed by her early career and interest in Abstract Expressionism. During a recent exchange she wrote, “I gained a sensitivity for color, movement, texture, composition, and edges that is still engrained within me today, even in my art and science-based investigations. I have also been very influenced by Man Ray and the freedom of his experimental practice.” Given her interest in merging science with art, it comes as no surprise Alterwitz is also inspired by Lazlo Maholy-Nagy, who lived during the first half of the twentieth century and voraciously integrated technology and art within his studio practice. In terms of other influences, Alterwitz respects photographers who are fully committed to their chosen subject matter. Sally Mann easily falls into this category, as does David Maisel, whose investigations of the human toll on the environment blur the line between abstraction and documentary photography. 

Linda Alterwitz earned her MFA from the University of Denver in 1984. Dozens of institutions have exhibited her work, including the New Mexico Museum of Art, Missoula Art Museum, Center for Creative Photography, New Orleans Photo Alliance, and the Yixian Photography Festival in Yixian, China. Notably, she was awarded the Fellowship for Visual Arts by the Nevada Arts Council in 2015. That same year she served as artist-in-residence at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Selected publications that have discussed her creative practice include the Smithsonian Magazine, Diffusion Magazine, Orion Magazine and Musée Magazine.


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