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Artist in Residence: Lynn Christoffers

On photographing cats and her new show that opens this Friday at the Photography Gallery in the Tennis Center

Lynn Christoffers first visit to the Island was as a student at the Chilmark Photography Workshop in 1985. As with many, Christoffers couldn’t help but return summer after summer. For years she rented a small camp in Aquinnah with no running water where she lived a very different life then the one she lived in New York City where she was an art advisor to JP Morgan Bank.

Around 2005, Christoffers started renting the cottage at the in West Tisbury and has slowly become a year round resident, though she continues to spend time in New York in the winter for art consulting projects.

Christoffers began exhibiting her photography and mixed media installations in 1988 and has continued to do so since, both in New York and on Martha’s Vineyard. This Friday, nearly 35 of her photographs will go on display in the Photography Gallery at the on Airport Road in West Tisbury.

Christoffers has been spending a great deal of time recently photographing the Island’s cats – and their owners, for a book project called “Cats of Martha’s Vineyard.” Much of the work from that project will be featured in the show, as well as some of her portraits. There will also be a few large pieces from a series Christoffers started in the 1990s called “Playgrounds around the world,” which have not been shown on the Island before now.

Christoffers made time during the setting up of her show to tell us more about being an Island photographer and what it is about cats.

 

How long have you been working on the “Cats of Martha's Vineyard?”

Since 2007 

What makes the difference between a good and a great photograph?

How you feel about the image -- the emotive response. 

Why did you decide to photograph the Island’s cats?

Cats are easy subjects for me, and I seem to have no "no shows," though quite often the owner will tell me the cat is shy. Each cat is very special: they like to be told that and will show off for the camera. They are great models for me. And I enjoy photographing the entire family with the cat(s) and other pets, to see the whole family group.  

What is your favorite time of day to take pictures?

Late afternoon. 

Other than cats, what are your favorite subjects?

Babies, children and animals. I also have become quite intrigued with portraits.

What was your first camera?

Probably a brownie. But then the chairman of my art department at Drew gave me an Olympus rangefinder in 1976, and it became my first serious camera. Only film then.

What is your favorite season for photographing the Island?

That's a hard one, they all are special.  Maybe the fall.

What book are you reading right now?

T.S. Eliot's "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats"; about to start: Patti Smith's "Just Kids"

Who makes the best coffee on the Island?

 

Photographs by Lynn Christoffers opens this Friday, April 13th with a reception at the Photography Gallery at the on Airport Rd in West Tisbury. 5 pm – 7 pm

Sam Hiser April 25, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Lynn, I hope you enjoy the Patti Smith book as I did. It's about a special time in New York that I missed. (And I didn't know that Mapplethorpe had used a Graflex.) Cats are people too!
Mathea Morais April 26, 2012 at 12:47 AM
I absolutely loved Kids, Lynn. A fantastic read from beginning to end.

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