Lynn Stern was born and raised in New York, where she continues to live. She grew up surrounded by abstract expressionist art that her father started collecting in the late 1940s, continuing through the fifties. Stern was not conscious of the work’s effect on her at the time, but in later years she realized that living with this art had affected her in two very different ways: it was probably responsible her love of abstraction, and it also intimidated her to the extent that she never even considered becoming a painter.
Shortly after graduating cum laude from Smith College, Stern began working as an archivist for the architect Robert A.M. Stern; this entailed accompanying his in-house photographer as a ‘stylist,’ removing and adding elements for the interior shots. Beguiled by composing through the camera lens, she began photographing in 1977, studying first at the International Center of Photography and then privately with Joseph Saltzer.
Stern works with black and white film and indirect, natural light; since 1985 she has been doing studio work, using a scrim of translucent white or black fabric, either alone to create abstractions, or combined with symbolic objects. She thinks of the backlit scrim as her ‘medium’; it creates a glow of diffuse light that is a constant in all of her work.
The Lynn Stern Archive is located at the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson.
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