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BIO

I am a photographer and artist. I take photographs of people, places and things that I believe are in the process of changing. I want to photograph true and unique American landscapes and document these scenes before they change and it's too late.

I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Washington, DC in 1981 at age sixteen. In 1985 I graduated from the Corcoran College of Art with a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. The Washington, DC punk/alternative music community of the early 1980s greatly influenced my artistic and photographic styles, lending an energy to my work that was drawn from—and pointed toward—the "DIY" (do it yourself) ethic. By natural progression, I wanted to create my own art "scene", or contribute to a community in the same way that the local music scene had.

In 1986 I spent six months in San Francisco working on the punk music magazine Maximum Rock 'n' Roll, where my ideas were distilled even further. While in San Francisco, I decided to return to the East Coast and document the punk music scene there. Once back in Washington, DC, I established my own publishing company and produced the book Banned in DC, a collection of stories and photographs that I put together with the help of Leslie Clague and Sharon Cheslow. Banned in DC was published in 1988; since then, I have sold over 13,000 copies.

While working on Banned in DC, I began to book bands, art, performance art and musicals at a local alternative arts venue called d.c. space. For six years, I promoted shows featuring a wide variety of artists such as performance artist Karen Finley, jazz musician Don Cherry, rock band Big Black, and many other artists from around the country. With d.c. space serving as a platform for art and music, I realized how such an intimate, non-traditional outlet for shows and performances could be important for a community.

In 1988, I sensed a turning point in the local music scene, so I decided to document that change by recording a number of bands. I subsequently produced and manufactured a live album called The Pre-Moon Syndrome Post Summer of Noise, the proceeds of which were donated to a local free medical clinic.

During this time, I was also working at Dischord Records, doing advertising and promotions at this influential DC based record/CD label. I worked at Dischord until 2002.

Around 1993 I dove avidly into photography after documenting the project DC Musicians with their Cars for Speed Kills magazine. It was at this point that I decided that what much of what I had learned in school had actually restricted my imagination, so I decided to teach myself the rudiments of color and black and white photography. I decided to apply to my art projects the same DIY aesthetics of the music shows I had promoted at d.c. space, booking openings in spaces where art wasn't traditionally shown. Many of my early shows included performance art, storytelling, and spontaneous music performances, which created a multi-media experience that combined the energetic elements of live performances with the visual energy of my photographs.

Since those early days, my photographs have been shown all over the world (including the DC Musicians with their Cars series, a series of 35mm black and white landscapes, and a series of color half-frames). Because of the flexibility of my job at Dischord Records, I was able to take my photographs "on tour", organizing month-long shows in galleries and other spaces and traveling to or from each show, all the while continuing to photograph. My friend Pat Graham and I collaborated on these tours—the photos were shipped to each venue in advance, then I or another artist would take turns hanging or dismantling the show. I did all the promotional work for these tours, which ran from 1997 to 2000.

In May, 1999, I did a solo show featuring 80 framed works at Milky World Gallery in Seattle, Washington. Later that year, I became interested in the European ideal of the American landscape, so I organized an international tour of the Seattle show and reprinted my photographs in a larger format. I brought these photos in a box, unframed, to five European locations. Also that year, I was selected for the Pennsylvania Photo Review competition.

In 2000 I was the winner of Arlington County's Juror Award, Summer Salon.

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Cynthia Connolly
PO Box 12091
Arlington, Virginia 22219

cynthia[at]dischord.com