Lois Conner is known for her large-scale panoramic photographs relating to a global landscape. Her pictures are characterized by their narrative sweep, a sense of place, and their implicit attention to history and culture. Many of her projects have an arc of decades, including her work in New York, in China, on the Navajo Reservation, and in the American West.
Carrying her 7”x17”, 8”x10” and “11x14” cameras by bicycle, boat, cart, or thrown over her shoulder, she navigates the land slowly. Her photographs allow the viewer to approach the landscape with a more cumulative perspective. Although human presence is not explicit in all of her photographs, it is subtly implied in a way that allows the world to be believably rescaled. "My subject is landscape as culture. What I am trying to reveal through photography in a deliberate, yet subtle way is a sense of history. I want my photographs to describe my relationship to both the tangible and the imagined, to fact and fiction."
Conner has been awarded numerous grants, including, recently, a Pollock-Krasner Award for Artists (2020), the Rosenkranz Foundation Fellowship for Photography (2019); Carol and Sol Lewitt’s Artist-in-Residence Fellowship in Praiano, Italy (2010, 2011); Anonymous Was a Woman fellowship (2007), as well as grants from the Guggenheim Foundation (1984), New York State Council on the Arts (1983) and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1979).
In 2018, she had solo exhibitions at the Shanghai Center of Photography and the M97 Gallery in Shanghai. Other recent solo exhibitions include: Beijing: Contemporary and Imperial at the Cleveland Art Museum in Ohio (2014); The Long View, Gitterman Gallery, New York (2014); Unfurling the Landscape, Australian National University, Canberra; Reading Landscapes, M97 Gallery, Shanghai; Beijing, Zetterquist Gallery, New York; Searching for Van Gogh, Dali, China (2013); Drawing the Land, JNBY Gallery in Hangzhou, China (2012); and Beijing Building, Rossi and Rossi in London (2011). In the fall of 2012, her work was featured at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in the Chinese Gardens: Pavilions, Studios, Retreats exhibition (with two large triptychs of lotus, among others). She was included in Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010).
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC, presented a retrospective of her work, Landscape as Culture, in 1993. Her work is in the permanent collections of many museums, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California; and at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Museum and the British Library in London. Last year, a large format print of her Huang Shan photograph was chosen for permanent installation at the entryway to the Asian Galleries.
Her books include: Lotus, Trees and the Jiangnan Landscape, Hangzhou, 2019; A Long View, Shanghai Center of Photography, 2018; Lotus Leaves, Wairarapa Academy, New Zealand, 2018; Beijing: Contemporary and Imperial, Princeton Architectural Press, 2014; Beijing Building, Rossi and Rossi, London, 2012; Life in a Box, Hanart, Hong Kong, 2010; Twirling the Lotus, Rossi and Rossi, London, 2007; and China: The Photographs of Lois Conner, Callaway, NY, 2000.
Conner has been teaching photography for over thirty years, including a decade at the Yale University School of Art. Other venues include Princeton University, Sarah Lawrence College, Cooper Union, Bard College, Stanford University, the New School and the School of Visual Arts. She taught at The China Academy of Art in Hangzhou, China in the fall of 2019, and is currently teaching at Fordham University.