Schools Attended:Rhode Island School of Design
Photo Associations & Memberships:Society for Photographic Education (SPE)
Arno Rafael Minkkinen is a Finnish-American photographer. Minkkinen was born in Helsinki, Finland in 1945 and emigrated to the United States in 1951. A graduate of Wagner College with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, he began taking self-portraits in 1971 while working as an advertising copywriter on Madison Avenue in New York. Studying later with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind at Rhode Island School of Design, he earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in photography in 1974. Over the past four decades, Minkkinen has been engaged as a teacher, curator, and writer while continuing to devote his photographic research and energies to the self-portrait: unmanipulated images of the human figure in the natural landscape.
Published and exhibited worldwide, Minkkinen’s work can be found in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts, the Centre Pompidou and Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris France, the Musée de l'Élysée in Lausanne Switzerland, the Center for Creative Photography in Arizona, the Finnish Museum of Photography, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography among many others.
Seven solo monographs on his work have been published: Frostbite (1978), Waterline (1994, winner of the 25th Rencontres d’Arles Book Prize), Body Land (1999), SAGA: The Journey of Arno Rafael Minkkinen, 35 Years of Photographs (2005), Homework: The Finnish Photographs (2008), Swimming in the Air (2009), and Balanced Equation (2010). The retrospective survey SAGA premiered at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA, in 2005. The 120-print retrospective toured to Romania, Slovakia, Finland, Italy, China, and Canada.
Professor of Art at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, Minkkinen also serves as Docent at Aalto University of Art & Design Helsinki. Earlier in his teaching career he served as Assistant Professor at M.I.T., Visiting Artist at Philadelphia College of Art (now University of the Arts (Philadelphia)), the École d’Arts Appliqués in Vevey, Switzerland, and as graduate faculty at Maine Media College in Rockport, Maine. Since joining UMass Lowell in 1987, Minkkinen has taken students to Europe, in particular, Finland and Russia (1988), and Czechoslovakia (1989). In 1996, in a collaborative UMass Lowell/Lahti Institute of Design (Lahti, Finland) exchange program called Spirit Level, thirty Finnish, American, and Swiss students toured through Finland, Russia, and Eastern Europe for three weeks with Minkkinen and photo department head at Lahti, Timo Laaksonen. Among the students at the time was Mark Eshbaugh who later became an adjunct professor at UMass Lowell. Seven years after the first Spirit Level, together with Timo Laaksonen and Mark Eshbaugh a professor at Umass Lowell at that time, Tuscany in Italy (2003) and Oaxaca, Mexico (2007) were added to the program. The first three workshops resulted in the publication of a book commemorating those first three experiences. More recent Spirit Level workshops organized by Minkkinen include collaborations with Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland and the Foundation Studio Marangoni in Florence, Italy (2010) as well as the Bilder Nordic School of Photography in Oslo and the École Supérieure d’Arts & Medias de Caen/Cherbourg in France (2012) for an American Road Trip to the studio farmlands of American photographer Sally Mann.
Minkkinen has taught workshops worldwide, particularly at the Maine Photographic Workshops (now Maine Media Workshops), Maine Media College (as part of the graduate faculty), the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, Anderson Ranch in Colorado, Santa Fe Workshops in New Mexico, the Friends of Photography in Carmel, California, and in Europe at the Rencontres d’Arles in Arles, France, the Toscana Photographic Workshops in Tuscany, Italy, as well as workshop programs in Finland, Norway, Luxembourg, and China. Minkkinen is serving a second four-year term as national board member of the Society of Photographic Education (2008 to 2016).
Since 2009, Minkkinen has developed a growing interest in feature filmmaking and screenwriting. In 2010, he received a first round of support from the Finnish Film Foundation for a screenplay he had written and will be directing. To be shot in Finnish Karelia and Finntown, Brooklyn, the feature-length project signals the beginning of a new filmmaking career. The demo preview of The Rain House was screened at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center in connection with the Dance Films Association’s 41st Dance on Camera Festival (2013).
Minkkinen was conferred the First Class Order of the Lion of Finland Medal of knighthood by the Finnish government in 1992, and awarded the Finnish State Art Prize in Photography in 2006.
- Arno Rafael MinkkinenArno Rafael Minkkinen has been making amazing, mind-bending photographic self portraits for more than 40 years — here he talks about his beginnings, his process, and some of the inspirations and insights that have guided him so far.