Artist Profile: Lynn Fundingsland

By Brandi Malarkey
Special to The Arts Partnership

For Minot-born Lynn Fundingsland, a career developing local housing in Fargo has resulted in an art portfolio that has circled the globe. 

For 15 years, Lynn worked in housing in Detroit Lakes, Minn., before becoming director of the Fargo Housing Authority, a position he held for 17 years. In his capacity of director, he developed new housing, apartment buildings for low-income families and managed over 50 employees.

Between work and vacations, Lynn has also traveled internationally, allowing him to broaden his scope of work with images from around the world, like his Staircase collection, which began in Guatemala. 

Fundingsland’s love of the local area comes through strongly in his images, like his hauntingly dream-like photographs of the Red River. However, his love for travel has definitely defined his picture taking 

Now that he’s retired from housing, Fundingsland is free to concentrate on travel and photography, as he and his partner plan trips around the country in their RV. With over 50 years of photography under his belt, his advice for others is simple: “Just do it and stay with it. Like anything, the more you work at it the better you get.”

Here’s more about local artist Lynn Fundingsland.

Q: Are you self-taught or traditionally or college-trained?

A: I grew up with Kodak box cameras. When I was in the Marine Corps, I picked up a 35mm camera in Vietnam, although that camera was eventually destroyed in an artillery attack. When I got out of the military and lived in California, I got an art degree from Humboldt State University. My photography teacher was friends with Ansel Adams. One time he brought in a bunch of 8×10 prints, and just passed them around. They were Ansel’s prints. 

After I graduated, I did some commercial photography before going back to school to get my master’s degree in city planning. I took pictures of weddings,  football teams and local bands, and worked for a couple of newspapers. 

Q: The phrase “a picture a day” is often used in relation to your work. What does that refer to?

A: Fred Scheel, who started the Scheels stores, was also a really good photographer and a collector. Many years ago he hung a show at the Rourke Art Museum with his collected work and his own work. In the show catalog he talked about how every day he either made photographs, read about photographs, or studied photographs. I pledged to myself to take at least one picture a day. Since then, there’s been very few days in the last 30 years that I haven’t done that.

Q: Does your work have a particular focus?

A: I’m really an opportunist. I don’t focus on anything specific, like landscapes or portraits or architecture. If something catches my eye I stop and do a study of it. A study might take 10 minutes, or it might take years. I’ve got some portfolios that have taken years to pull together.  I’ve got a collection of staircases from all around the world, as well as a collection of entry-level houses from all around the world. I also end up with a lot of flowers photos, because with my picture day I sometimes don’t get away from the house, so I just go out in the backyard. How can you not be fond of flowers?

Q: Of your various studies, do you have a favorite?

A: I think whatever I am working on at the moment is my favorite. My current study is of trees; trees and landscapes. I’m trying to figure out a way to elevate the conversation on global warming with the images. 

My favorite thing to look at that is not my own work is street photography. People who aren’t posed and are usually not even aware that they are being photographed. I’m not so practiced at that style of photography myself, it’s not something I’ve ever been able to do with a high level of satisfaction, but I love that style of work. 

Q: Is there anything that might surprise people about your art?

A: I also do some incisive sculpture, one or two a year. I used to do more when I lived in California where there was  easy access to materials: redwood, walnut, and soapstone. It’s hard to access stone around here, so now I just use wood, and make them yard scale for outside. 

Q: What should we look forward to from you now that you are retired?

A: Now that I am retired, I get out and walk more. I picked up golf. I’m not very good at it, but it’s a nice way to spend time with friends and get out and get a lot of steps in. I’ve become a member of Gallery 4 again. I was a member years ago, but now I have more time to devote to it. I’ve also started painting. I took a class at the Plains Art Museum, and picked it up. 

I don’t do a lot of studio work, I’m an outdoors photographer, so it’s nice to have  something to try when you can’t go outside. I find photography more rewarding, but I like dabbling with painting, and I have some ideas I want to execute. With photography I am working on expanding my portfolio of area landscapes.

I’ve also started submitting more of my work to magazines. I’ve now had  work published in Black and White magazine, as well as in ‘Seeing in Sixes,’ a book put out by LensWork magazine.

I recently did an extended study of the Red River. It developed organically. I live by the river and walk it pretty much every day with a camera. I put together a book of the images, and I have sent it to a publisher. If they opt to not pick it up, I will probably self-publish it. 

This blog was previously posted in an article for Inforum as part of a longstanding content partnership with Forum Communications Co. 

About the Author

TAP partner and community content contributor Brandi Malarkey is a multi-disciplinary artist, writer, administrator, and occasional hot mess. She is a collector of dead bugs and good books, and a believer that ordinary miracles and small kindnesses have the power to change the world. Learn more about Brandi on her website: www.itsallmalarkey.com.

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