Strawn, Martha A. 1945–
Strawn, Martha A. 1945–
PERSONAL: Born April 29, 1945, in Washington, DC; daughter of Clifford Earl (a lawyer and real estate broker) and Marion Anne (a lawyer) Strawn; married Alex Hybel, 1969 (divorced, 1973); married Larry Ligo, 1977 (divorced, 1983). Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Florida State University, B.A., 1967; Brooks Institute of Photography, technical certificate, 1968; Ohio University, M.F.A., 1970. Politics: Liberal Democrat. Religion: Agnostic. Hobbies and other interests: Sea kayaking, cooking, gardening.
CAREER: Florida State University, Tallahassee, instructor in art, 1969–70; Northeast Louisiana University, Monroe, assistant professor of art, 1970–71; University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, professor of art and women studies, 1971–2004, professor emeritus, 2005–. University of Florida, courtesy professor, 1985. Light Factory Arts Organization, founder and member, 1973–, member of board of directors, 1973–75; Center for American Places, member of board of trustees, 1993–2001. Photographer, with work commissioned by the governor of North Carolina and represented in public collections, including those at Princeton Art Museum, St. Petersburg Art Museum, and Paine Webber Collection. Charlotte Dance Guild, member of board of directors, 1973–76.
MEMBER: International Visual Sociology Association, Society of Photographic Education (chair of board of directors, 1982–85), Friends of Photography (member of board of trustees, 1986–94), American Alligator Cycle of Protection (founder, 1971), Fulbright Alumni Association (fellow).
AWARDS, HONORS: Photography fellow, National Endowment for the Arts, 1980; North Carolina Governor's Business Award, North Carolina Council of Arts and Humanities, 1982; senior Fulbright fellow in India, 1984; individual artist fellow, Southeast Center for Contemporary Arts, 1986.
Alligators: Prehistoric Presence in the American Landscape, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1997.
Across the Threshold of India, Center for American Places (Santa Fe, NM), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Martha A. Strawn once told CA: "In the fall of 1985, I taught art as a courtesy professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville. During my tenure there, I began a landscape project that became a 'visual ecology' project, resulting in my book Alligators: Prehistoric Presence in the American Landscape. Based on thirty-two visual sequences, the book annotates the photographs with an accompanying flow of descriptive writing, poetry, songs, stories, and informational prose in essay form. The book, which took ten years to research and develop, was released in Charlotte, North Carolina, at a joint art-and-science-museums exhibition that featured my photographs and video work in the exhibition and in an interactive computer installation piece. The science museum also housed live alligators and served tastings of alligator meat.
"I consider the main influence in my writing to be my visual work. I create a research interaction between the visual work and the experiential and academic research I pursue about a subject. The visual work informs my intellectual understanding and vice versa. In my first book, the focus is on the environment and the importance of the land in the biotic cycle of which we are apart, biologically and aesthetically. The second book is on the significance of mark-making by women in India and how various actions in women's lives empower their existence and affect their culture in physical, psychological, and aesthetic ways. Both of these subjects are personal in my experience. Both subjects have diverse and inter-related effects on the lives of people within their cultures. Lands, water, people—especially women—and the arts are all inspiring elements of life to me. Finding out the experiential substance behind the visual presence is fascinating. That process feeds my motivation and drives me to learn more, thereby altering my viewpoint when I am creating an image. It is an intertwining process."
More recently Strawn added: "Growing out of this process, most recently I began a series of images of water and light that are poetically developed in my mind. These pictures are intended as ongoing, with no goal of completion as a series at this time."