Marilyn Bridges, Lane Manned, 1985

Marilyn Bridges, (American) (b. 1948)

Lane Manned, 1985

Gelatin Silver Print

16 x 20 in. (40.6 x 50.8 cm)

Gift of Gerald M. Lotenberg (Class of ’49), 1995, The Mishkin Gallery

Marilyn Bridges is noted for her fine art black and white aerial photographs of extraordinary ancient and modern landscapes. Her photographs function as both art and information, personal expression and documentation. She preserves what she refers to as “the messages of humankind”—markings and monuments written on the earth from prehistoric time to the present day that form a complex tapestry of human culture. Her contemporary landscapes are filled with the evidence of industrialization. For her, our factories and congested highways do not reflect progress, so much as our dislocated relationship to the earth and environment. Raised in Bergen County, New Jersey, her artist mother encouraged her to draw and dance. When she was five, her father, a banker in New York and an amateur photographer, gave her a camera and taught her how to use it. She went on to study photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and began her career in aerial photography in 1976 in the Peruvian desert, hiring a small airplane to fly over the mysterious Nazca Lines, the largest concentration of earth drawings in the world. These first prints revealed the deep shadows, eloquent light, and sense of time standing unnaturally still that has become her signature style. There is an elemental feel of true artistic balance, technical mastery, strength of purpose, and a sense of discovery in her photographs that is breathtaking without being gimmickry. In Lane Manned, her birds eye view of traffic congestion at a toll-booth we all but ignore except for its noise and inconvenience, appears quiet and serene—like a sea of a stripes, lines and patterns, abstractions man-made from the repetitions pattern of traffic doing what is does—stop and start, stop and start, captured by some far away observer lucky enough to show us the beauty in it.