Marilyn Bridges

(Newark, New Jersey, 1948 - )

North America, American

Marilyn Bridges began taking classes at the Art Students League in New York City shortly after graduating from high school. Her husband, who worked for a travel magazine, persuaded her to work alongside him as a photographer. While working on assignment in Peru, she took her first aerial photographs of the Nazca plain in 1976. “[A]fter a long excursion into the desert to see the [Nazca] lines,” she explains, “I was very disappointed I couldn’t see anything, and then someone suggested I see them from a plane…. I immediately understood that these lines were intended to be seen from above.” Shortly afterward, Bridges separated from her husband and enrolled at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.

Bridges’ early work earned the admiration of Cornell Capa and was exhibited at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. At RIT, she studied under the photographer John Pfahl, who encouraged her to photograph modern North American landscapes. She graduated from RIT with a BFA in 1979 and an MFA in 1981 and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship the following year. Bridges earned a pilot’s license, but continued to hire a pilot to fly her plane. She would often photograph while laying flat on the floor of the plane with her body hanging part way out of an open cargo door. As she told one interviewer, “I wanted the plane to be an extension of my body so that the plane, the camera, and I became one.” In the years that followed, Bridges was awarded a CAPS Grant (1983), an NEA Grant (1984) and a Fulbright Grant (1988), and she was elected a fellow of the Explorers Club. Her work is held in the National Library of France in Paris, the International Center of Photography, New York City and the Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

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