Rosalind Solomon was born in 1930 in Highland Park, Illinois. She graduated from Goucher College in 1951 with a degree in Political Science. Following her graduation, she traveled to Belgium and France with The Experiment in International Living, an organization with which she remained closely associated for the next two decades. Solomon married and moved to Chattanooga, TN, in 1953 where she raised her two children. She became the Regional Director of The Experiment in International Living in 1961, coordinating host families throughout the Southeast.
In 1968 the Experiment sent Solomon to Tokyo, and it was there that she discovered photography. She began taking pictures with an Instamatic, expressing herself in a new way. A year later, she purchased a Nikkormat and set up her own darkroom. By 1974 she had met Lisette Model and studied with her intermittently on trips to New York City.
At the time, Solomon was photographing dolls, as well as people, at a monthly market in Scottsboro, Alabama. The Bibliothèque nationale de France purchased a doll series in 1974. Her first major collection of photos, First Mondays in Scottsboro, was shown at the Birmingham Museum in Alabama in 1975, the same year that the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased photographs of that series. The next year she began photographing in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the Baroness Erlanger Hospital and in Sicily. Later that year, John Szarkowski included two photographs from her Dolls & Manikins series in his Photography for Collectors show at the Museum of Modern Art.
In 1977 Solomon acquired the Hasselblad camera which she continues to use. She lived and worked in Washington, DC where she made pictures of artists and politicians and completed a series, Outside the White House. During this period she also traveled to the Guatemala Highlands and photographed rural people and rituals. John Szarkowski selected a photograph for his 1978 Museum of Modern Art exhibition and catalog, Mirrors and Windows, and a year later the Museum of Modern Art purchased and exhibited the photograph of a shaman that has become one of Solomon’s best-known ritual images. The Library of Congress purchased a selection of her Guatemala photographs.
In 1980 the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, exhibited Rosalind Solomon: Washington, with an accompanying catalogue, and the Sander Gallery in Washington showed Rosalind Solomon, Photographs. Solomon received a Guggenheim Fellowship which supported her work in Brazil and Peru. She made Carnival, an edition of four albums with collaged covers, and a boxed assemblage, Corazón. She returned to Peru in 1981 and 1982, photographing, shooting super 8 film, and making tape recordings. In 1981-1983, the American Institute of Indian Studies, a prominent organization supporting scholarly and artistic work in Southeast Asia, awarded her fellowships to photograph Indian festivals. George Eastman House, Rochester, NY, exhibited and toured Rosalind Solomon: India which then traveled to the Smithsonian’s American Museum of Natural History in Washington DC and other venues. The American Centers in India exhibited a group of Solomon’s India pictures in New Delhi, Madras, Bombay and Calcutta. In the early 1980’s the George Eastman House and the Library of Congress acquired selections of her India work.
Solomon divorced in 1984 and moved to lower Manhattan where she built her darkroom and studio. She produced two installation pieces, Adiós and Catacombs that year. In 1985 she photographed the earthquake aftermath in Mexico City, and in 1986 she took a series of New York street portraits and a series of portraits outside Buddhist temples in Katmandu. The artist’s unique album, Along the Road, evolved from her experience in Nepal. In 1986, the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, CA mounted an exhibition of eighty-six Solomon works with a catalogue, Rosalind Solomon, Earthrites. Another exhibition, Rosalind Solomon, Ritual, opened later that year at the Museum of Modern Art, and the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ, acquired a large selection of Solomon’s photographs.
Solomon began photographing people with AIDS in the USA in 1987, and in 1988 Grey Art Gallery at New York University mounted a solo exhibition of these pictures and published the catalogue, Portraits in the Time of AIDS. Photographs from this series were later purchased by the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum and the Library of Congress. From 1988 to 1990 a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts helped support her work in South Africa, and in Dublin and Belfast, Ireland. Solomon also traveled to Agua de Dios, Colombia, where she photographed people with Hansen’s Disease. During this period she worked on a survivors’ project in Poland, Yugoslavia, Cambodia, and Cuba, and in 1992-94 Solomon lived part-time in New Orleans where she photographed musicians and festivals.
Between 1995 and 2003, Solomon photographed in Peru. In 1996 Museo de Arte de Lima presented Solomon’s pictures El Peru y Otros Lugares – Peru and Other Places. A catalogue accompanied the exhibition, which included her Peru work from the eighties and the nineties as well as other pictures from locations in Latin America, India, and the United States. Museo de Arte de Lima also acquired a selection of Solomon’s Peru photographs.
In 1998 Solomon traveled to Tibet and revisited India and Nepal. During that year, she finished her video piece, To Highlands, incorporating early 1980’s super 8 film and mid-1990’s video footage from Peru, Tibet, and Highland Park, IL.
Solomon traveled to Israel in 1999 and also visited Jordan. In 2000 – 2001, Solomon photographed in the USA, Italy and Peru. During this time, and over the next two years, including residencies at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony and the Blue Mountain Art Center, she assembled and sequenced photographs and texts for Chapalingas, a review of thirty years of her work. In 2003 Die Photographische Sammlung exhibited her pictures in Cologne, Germany. An accompanying book, Chapalingas, was published by Steidl Verlag and Die Photographische Sammlung in English, German and French with 201 full-page reproductions.
In 2004, the Willy-Brandt-Haus in Berlin, Germany, exhibited Solomon’s pictures taken in Poland from 1988 and 2003. The Musée Nicephore Niepce, Chalon-sur-Saône, France, exhibited Rosalind Solomon, American Photographs in October 2005. In April 2006, The Foley Gallery in New York showed American Photographs and Chapalingas, Solomon’s first collection of American photographs to be exhibited in the United States in several decades.
Solomon’s photographs are in the collections of over 50 museums. Her work has been shown in nearly 30 solo exhibitions and in 75 group exhibitions. Over the years Solomon has been represented by Sepia International Inc., the Neikrug Gallery, Light Gallery, Lieberman and Saul, Rick Wester, Steven Kasher, the Foley Gallery, and Zabriskie in Paris, among others. Currently, Solomon is represented by the Bruce Silverstein in New York.