|August 31, 1896 -- Linda Connor|
It was in 1969 that Linda Connor first learned about the glass plate negatives in the archives of the Lick Observatory, but she did not start printing them until 1995. After receiving her MFA from The Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, Connor moved to San Francisco and applied for a job at The San Francisco Art Institute. As part of her interview with Jerry Burchard, Burchard asked to see some of Connor’s work. Her portfolio box contained a few images that were printed from a glass plate negatives and it was these images that sparked a conversation which lead him to tell Connor about the amazing archive of glass plate negatives and that he had had the opportunity to print a few of the plates. Burchard described an entire map of the night sky made up of a giant grid of negatives, as well as others including a selection of 20x24” plates of the Milky Way, but a rumor circulated that no one was able to touch the plates that made up a grid of the night sky. Connor was immediately interested in making prints, especially from the plates of the Milky Way, however, even if she was able to get access, the paper that she wanted to use, printing-out-paper, was only available in single weight at that time, which was not heavy enough for such a project. Connor did eventually end up with a job at SFAI, teaching beginning photography, where she teaches today. It was years later that her paper of choice, printing-out-paper, became available in double weight, and she was still intrigued with the project.
Even after the paper was available, it was still a few years before Connor was able to gain access, but she eventually did. Connor became quick friends with her supervisor, Tony Misch and his wife Victoria and she was given the key to the archives, and was invited to spend weekends at their home so that she could print all weekend. Between 1995-2000, Connor spent four or five weekends per year printing at the observatory. Most of the negatives that she had access to were 8x10”, while others were larger. All of the negatives were fascinating, but not all necessarily made nice prints, but fortunately she had time to sift through the archives. Connor would pick out a few plates at a time and take them outside to expose, using the sun on the back poach of the visitor center. If you visited to the Lick Observatory between 1995-2000 it is very possible that you witnessed Connor exposing the plates. After the printing-out-paper was exposed, it was then returned to a light tight bag so that it could be developed and gold toned when she returned to her studio. Though Connor made more than one print from each plate, the gold toning process makes each print quite unique.
|November 26, 1945 and March 8, 1936 -- Linda Connor|
|Two prints of December 21, 1889 showing the differences|
resulting from the gold toning process
|August 16, 1895 -- Linda Connor|
A new selection of Connor’s print from the Lick Observatory can be viewed here.
A number of books have been published on Connor's work, several of which are still in print: Odyssey, Heaven / Earth, and Luminance.
Solar will be on exhibit through the end of November. A selection of work from the show can be viewed online here.