Photography of Arno Rafael Minkkinen

Curated By Steven Benson, Professor of Photography, Southeast Center for Photographic Studies

On display August 29 to October 29

Reception and Lecture: Friday, October 6 at 5 p.m.

Minkkinen, a Finnish-American photographer, was born in Helsinki and emigrated to the US in 1951. Minkkinen earned an MFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design, studying along the likes of Aaron Siskind and Harry Callahan. Minkkinen’s storied career in photography includes solo and group exhibitions in galleries and museums from around the world, a small library of publications including full length photo books, critical essays, fiction, and even screenplays, teaching positions, residencies, speaking engagements, and a host of photography awards. To say he is prolific would be an understatement.

This exhibition incorporates some of Minkkinen’s images from the 1970’s and 1980’s, contemporary and recent work, image murals, and, in a rare move for Minkkinen, selections of his color photography.  


Minkkinen’s photos are striking in their clarity, and though his unique style has barely strayed from its foundational elements, his images never seem redundant, clichéd, or repetitive.

According to William Lee Adams, for Arno Rafael Minkkinen, nudity is akin to spirituality. On the topic Minkkinen states that

“I don’t want to be seen as a nudist. But there is something about how close you get to the act of creation by walking around by yourself in some stretch of forest in Finland, with nothing on, looking for a photograph, climbing rocks and moving around like a monkey. Bared assed and just digging your toes into the soft earth, you really feel like you’ve been created.”

“Many of my photographs are difficult to make. Some can even be dangerous. I do not want to have someone else coming in harm’s way taking the risks I need to take: to lean out off a cliff or stay underwater for the sake of my picture. We control how much pain we can tolerate; such information is unknowable by anyone else. Some of my pictures might look simple, but in reality they can test the limits of what a human body is capable of or willing to risk. Thus I title them self-portraits, so the viewer knows who is in the picture and who took it.”