Travels Abroad Lead to Journeys Within

Lynn Davis in The New York Times

By Mia Fineman


On a recent Thursday afternoon the photographer Lynn Davis sat nursing a cappuccino in the airy, ground-floor cafe of the Rubin Museum of Art in Chelsea. The Rubin, which opened in 2004, is primarily devoted to the Buddhist art of Himalayan Asia, and that afternoon Ms. Davis, a slender woman with translucent skin and a gleaming mane of white hair, seemed to radiate an air of inner tranquillity and relaxed contemplation.


Or maybe it was jet lag. The day before, she returned from a trip to southern India, where she photographed the ruins of Hampi, the 14th-century capital of the Hindu kingdom Vijayanagara, now designated a Unesco World Heritage Site. “If I closed my eyes,” she confessed, “I could fall asleep right now.”


Ms. Davis, 62, is a veteran traveler. For the last 20 years she has circled the globe with her camera, documenting mammoth structures like the Great Pyramids and natural wonders like Wave Rock in western Australia in an austere yet ravishing style. She has photographed icebergs in Greenland; ancient architectural ruins throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East; and rock formations in the American West, following what she described as an “internal logic” from one continent to the next.


“What I’m looking for,” she said, “are sites that evoke a feeling of inner peacefulness, some quality of contemplation. I don’t always get it, and I don’t always translate it, but I certainly know when the feeling comes over me, and that’s what keeps me going.”

8 April 2007