Mike Lien, Photographer

Michael B. Lien was a photographer for the New York Times on the D.C. beat where he covered the Pollical Scene during the Nixon era.

And so much more: Special assignments for the Newspaper and the Magazine;  Trips all over the world - London, Bermuda, Moscow; and his personal work as well, Mike was never without a camera in hand. 

Mike broke into Photojournalism in his hometown, at the Fargo Forum. He covered news, sports, and whatever else caught his eye. When Central High burned down in 1966 his photos were picked up by papers around the country.

Photographers got a byline in those days, and Mike submitted work to press competitions, winning many awards. So it wasn't long before the big boys were knocking on his door.

Sadly, Mike was fatally injured in a car accident in Maryland and died on December 1, 1977 - only 40 years old. But fortunately, his work survived. Mike's loyal friend and colleague, Chick Harrity of the Associated Press packed away the slides, negatives, and prints into cartons and kept them safe. That collection still lives today at the Archives at North Dakota State University.

Fargo never forgot Mike Lien, and over the years exhibitions of his work were held at The Rourke Art Museum in Moorhead, MN, notably in 2005, 2010, and 2018.

This photographer never forgot Michael either. Mike was my hero, and as an aspiring photographer, I followed his work at The Forum, and then later, after he hit the big time, at the New York Times.

But it was many years later came the shock described in "Finding Michael" - Mike's secret connection to my family came to light. I tracked down Chick Harrity and subsequently came into possession of Mike's life work.

With this material and the assistance of Professor Mark Strand of Minnesota State Moorhead, and James O'Rourke and Jonathan Rutter of The Rourke Art Museum, exhibitions were hosted at The Rourke in 2010 and 2018.

We have done our best to capture Mike's story and his work. Here are links to additional resources if you wish to learn more:

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