Cynthia Connolly

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Cynthia Connolly
Cynthia Anne Connolly

Known forphotography, letterpress printing, art, curation
AwardsNational Endowment for the Arts Grant (2003). National Endowment for the Arts Grant (2017)

Cynthia Connolly (born 1964) is an American photographer, curator, graphic designer, and artist.


Connolly graduated from Corcoran College of Art and Design.[1] She worked for Dischord Records and d.c. space in Washington, DC.[2] In 1988, she published Banned in DC: Photos and Anecdotes From the DC Punk Underground (79–85) through her small press Sun Dog Propaganda.[3] The book was compiled with Sharon Cheslow and Leslie Clague. Banned in DC documented the early hardcore punk scene in Washington, DC, including bands like Bad Brains and Minor Threat.

One of Connolly's most well-known works is the album art for Out of Step, the 1983 LP by hardcore punk band Minor Threat.[4] The cover art shows a black crayon-drawn sheep, with his eyes wide open, leaping away from a group of white water-colored sheep. The black sheep has become a symbol for Dischord Records and the label's punk movement; it is widely copied as tattoo art.[5] In a 2015 interview with music blog Dangerous Minds, Connolly said about the sketch:

Minor Threat had asked me to make a drawing for the Out of Step cover. Ian Mackaye and I discussed something to do with a black sheep. The obvious idea was a black sheep that was leaping away from all the white sheep. The black sheep symbolized all of us, the kids that were doing something different, going against the grain of what was going on at the time.  I thought of us as young and energetic. I was just 19 when I drew the sheep, I think. I was young and energetic! It was 1983.[4]

Since the mid-1990s, Connolly has exhibited her photography of musicians, landscapes, and found objects. She is a key exemplar of what has come to be known as the “punk aesthetic,” making art from the same D.I.Y. "do it yourself" principles that characterized the punk rock music movement of the late 1970s and 1980s.[6] In addition to traditional art galleries, Connolly has showcased her work in ad hoc art spaces, such as warehouses, bars, vacant buildings, squats and people's homes. She letterpresses her own promotional posters and postcards.

In 2002, she participated in the Rural Studio Program of Auburn University in Newbern, Alabama.[1] There, she won a National Endowment for the Arts grant with the Alabama State Council on the Arts[1] to build a vegetable stand utilizing an art medium called "hogwire" by Alabama folk artist, Butch Anthony, as gates for the stand, and incorporating art by other Alabama artists in the project. She published photographs from her Alabama residency in the book The Rural Studio Bonus Album.[7] Connolly's Alabama photo collection has been shown in four main solo exhibitions as well as group gallery shows, including Transformer Gallery, Auburn University's Rural Studio, SUNY Purchase, amongst others.

Her photographic series of "Ice Machines", and her postcards, books and the cover artwork for Minor Threat's "Out of Step" EP were featured in an art exhibition Beautiful Losers, reviewed in Art in America. [8] Connolly collaborated with Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth on the 2004 book Lengths & Breaths, with her photography illustrating Ranaldo's text.[9]

The work exhibited at Civilian Art projects in 2012 made its way to the collection of the J Paul Getty Museum in her home town of Los Angeles, California. [10][11]

Cynthia Connolly continues to exhibit her photography and create ephemeral objects using her letterpress and photographs. She is the Special Projects Curator for Arlington County, Virginia.[12][13] Her work with Arlington County and the Arlington Art Truck earned a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2017 and was nominated for the Robert E. Gard Award from Americans for the Arts in 2019.[14]




Connolly's photographs, books, and ephemeral art are archived in museums and libraries internationally.

Collections list[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Connolly, Cynthia (2018). "Cynthia Connolly - Resume" (PDF). Cynthia Connolly - Official Website. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  2. ^ Andersen, Mark; Jenkins, Mark (2009). Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital. Akashic Books. ISBN 978-1-933354-99-6. Archived from the original on 2012-09-22.
  3. ^ "Sun Dog Propaganda SDP01b - Banned in DC". Dischord Records. 2020. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Bickel, Christopher (July 13, 2015). "Minor Threat's Iconic 'Out of Step' LP Cover". Dangerous Minds. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  5. ^ Hannon, Sharon M. (2010). Punks: A Guide to American Subculture. Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-36456-3.
  6. ^ Maffeo, Lois (May 6, 1999). "Shooting Rock: Cynthia Connolly's Punk Photography". The Stranger. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  7. ^ Connolly, Cynthia (2003). The Rural Studio Bonus Album. Sun Dog Propaganda. ISBN 0-9620944-1-2.
  8. ^ "Cynthia Connolly - Beautiful Losers". Raw Footage Film Archive. June 28, 2005. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  9. ^ "Books: Lengths & Breaths". Cynthia Connolly - Official Website. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  10. ^ Capps, Kriston (8 January 2015). "An Artist Finds a Little Bit of Los Angeles Everywhere". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  11. ^ "The Ever-Evolving Art of Cynthia Connolly". Washington City Paper. 27 December 2018. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  12. ^ Augenstein, Neil (2018-04-05). "From Dischord Records to Art Truck, Arlington hones cutting-edge arts trek". WTOP. Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  13. ^ Estes, Lindley (2018). "Arlington Art Truck • Whurk Magazine". Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  14. ^ "Arlington Art Truck". Arlington County, VA. 2020. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  15. ^ "30 years later, groundbreaking book 'Banned in DC' still reverberates". WTOP. 2018-12-10. Retrieved 2020-05-22.
  16. ^ Connolly, Cynthia (1988–2015). Banned in DC: Photos and Anecdotes from the DC Punk Underground (79-85). Sun Dog Propaganda. ISBN 978-0-9620944-0-8.
  17. ^ "Books: East To West". Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  18. ^ Ranaldo, Lee. (2004). Lengths & Breaths. Sudbury: Water Row Press. ISBN 0-934953-79-1. OCLC 54046739.
  19. ^ "Book Signing at Arcana, 6/20/15: BRYAN RAY TURCOTTE: FUCKED UP + PHOTOCOPIED | FUCKED UP +: THE READER | CYNTHIA CONNOLLY: BANNED IN DC (NEW EDITION) | NEW DEADBEAT CLUB PRESS 'ZINE: BIG LOTS". Arcana Books. June 20, 2015. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
  20. ^ "Stories from the Island of Big Sur, California". Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  21. ^ "Cynthia Connolly (American, born 1964) (Getty Museum)". The J. Paul Getty in Los Angeles. Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  22. ^ "Big Lots / Cynthia Connolly". National Museum of Women in the Arts. Retrieved May 22, 2020.
  23. ^ "Collections - Cynthia Connolly". Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  24. ^ "DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Announces 2012 Additions to Art Bank Collection | dcarts". Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  25. ^ Jenkins, Mark (2015-11-06). "In the galleries: Where did all the humans go?". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  26. ^ Connolly, Cynthia (2004). East to west. OCLC 785836868.
  27. ^ "Another World Charity Postcard Sale curated by Tracey Emin and her studio". Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  28. ^ Connolly, Cynthia; Clague, Leslie; Cheslow, Sharon; Indie Photobook Library/Larissa Leclair Collection (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library), eds. (1988). Banned in DC: photos and anecdotes from the DC punk underground (79-85) (1st ed.). Washington, DC: Sun Dog Propaganda. ISBN 978-0-9620944-0-8. OCLC 19676507.
  29. ^ "DC Punk Archive". District of Columbia Public Library. 2014-05-27. Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  30. ^ "PDS SSO". Retrieved 2020-05-21.
  31. ^ a b Connolly, Cynthia; Mazumdar, Sushmita (2016). Columbia Pike recipes for you: a community book art project, Arlington VA. OCLC 1015249521.

External links[edit]