Martha A. Strawn was born in Washington, DC, in 1945, she grew up in Lake Wales, Florida, and now resides along the Santa Fe River near High Springs, Florida. She attended Mary Baldwin College and received her B.A. in art under Evon Streetman from Florida State University, her Basic Certificate from Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California, and her M.F.A. in art from Ohio University. Strawn is Professor Emerita of Art at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, where she established the Time Arts program in photography, video, and digital imaging. Strawn co-founded The Light Factory Contemporary Museum of Photography and Film in Charlotte, and she has also served on other national arts and land/water conservation boards, including the Society for Photographic Education, Friends of Photography, Davidson Land Conservancy, and Center for the Study of Place. She was a Fulbright Fellow in India and the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.
Throughout her career, Strawn has been recognized for combining aesthetic and scientific interests in visual expressions of the spaces and places that surround us. She coined the term visual ecology in reference to her approach to the importance of geography and a sense of place in her photographic work. She works in silver, chromogenic, and digital photographic media. Strawn’s photographs have been exhibited and collected internationally in museums of science and art, including Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston, Harry Ransom Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, Indira Gandhi International Centre for Art, Museum of Florida Artists, National Geographic Society Museum, Princeton Art Museum, San Diego Museum of Natural History, Science Museum of Minnesota, Smithsonian Institution, and Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. Her previous books are Alligators, Prehistoric Presence in the American Landscape (The Johns Hopkins University Press, in association with the Center for American Places, 1997) and, with Yi-Fu Tuan, Religion: From Place to Placelessness (Center for American Places at Columbia College Chicago, 2009). Her current work, Nousphere, involves the places around water and the intimate connections to water she has through her family’s history and her present living circumstances.