Stonington Historical Society hosts lecture about late-photographer Rollie McKenna

Rollie McKenna (Courtesy Stonington Historical Society Rollie McKenna Collection)
Rollie McKenna (Courtesy Stonington Historical Society Rollie McKenna Collection)

The Stonington Historical Society will be hosting a lecture tonight at La Grua Center to discuss its ongoing project documenting the life and art of the late Stonington-based photographer Rollie McKenna. The project, which has been in the works since last year, is seeking to organize a self-published book about McKenna, as well as an exhibition of McKenna to be installed at the R.W. Woolworth Library & Research Center. Both the exhibition, and the book are expected to be available to the public this fall. The society, in addition to recently receiving $25,000 in grants from Connecticut Humanities, has also received the remainder of the Rosalie Thorne McKenna Foundation archive (over 500 pieces which include rare photographs of McKenna) and a $6,100 grant to help with the project.

Notable contributors of the project include renowned American graphic designer and novelist Chip Kidd, who will design the book’s cover; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Dillard, who will write the book’s introduction; and photographer Francis Hills, who will curate the exhibition on McKenna.

McKenna, an internationally renowned photographer who died in 2003, specialized in portraits of the literary elite — including Dylan Thomas, Truman Capote, T.S. Elliot, and Sylvia Plath. She lived in Stonington for much of her life where she documented its small town life and participated in a once-flourishing local arts scene alongside artists such as poet James Merrill, gardener and author Eleanor Perenyi and her mother, the novelist Grace Stone. The project seeks to remember both these fascinating aspects of McKenna's artistic career.

“Stonington Historical Society: A Village Love Affair — Rollie McKenna,” 6 p.m. tonight, La Grua Center, 32 Water St., Stonington; free; (860) 535-2300, lagruacenter.org.

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