About Bear Kirkpatrick’s images –
All of my artistic explorations are attempts to reveal something about the hidden shades that live within us. As a very young boy I went deaf, and as a result my body compensated for the loss by secretly learning to read lips and thus mask this handicap from my parents for almost a year. The flaw gave me power to witness, and with sight my primary way to read the world I began to see the hidden people that lived inside my mother and my father, the strange flashes of other beings that arose as something fugitive, something dangerous and not-them, and then were gone. I couldn’t say–and still can’t—what they are, who they are, or from where they came, but I saw them, and continued to see them after my parents caught on to my deafness. Surgeries repaired my hearing, but since those years I have been transfixed, fascinated, and frightened by things that change shape.
Slice time up into 1/250th of a second and you have the chance to capture elements that happen too fast for most eyes to register. Not only in people, but also in the strange spirits that live within trees and clouds and storms. All of these parts I can gather with a digital camera and used to compose with a method that is more akin to painting than to photography. The camera does not shoot an “image” so much as it converts light to pixels like gathering paint and textures—swathes of color or sky or grass of skin–from which to build new images. These tools allow me to seek out and combine liminal edges, the areas that still retain beauty and yet that also contain disturbing elements that speak to the transformations I first witnessed as a child.
My Hierophanies series was an attempt to bring out liminal states out of people by placing them naked in wild locations, running them quickly through several narratives to prevent self-reflection or conscious posing, and shooting as many images as possible in a 20 minute span before the light became too dark see. My current series Early Settlers explores my own family’s history of the earliest settlers to America, the Puritans and Pilgrims of 1620 and 1630, by using my own friends and family members as models of my forebears in an attempt to conflate these eras and perhaps invoke the beautiful and strange elements of human liminality to come forth as a kind of séance of spirit. My other current series Sexual Selection attempts another form of revelation by combining the somewhat disparate elements of Darwin’s ridiculed theory of Sexual Selection (female choice drives morphology), the watercolors of 18th and 19th century naturalists like Catesby and Audubon, and a modern sense of gloom to create the necessary environment to draw out liminal states of beauty and terror.
About Bear –
Bear Kirkpatrick is an American artist who began taking photographs at age 13 with a pinhole camera he made from a shoebox. This device and pursuit became his first means of exploring the mystery of the world through art. Although in the years since he has published short stories, had a screenplay produced into a full-length feature, has made custom furniture for Bono and Adam Clayton, has exhibited furniture, jewellery, photography and sculpture throughout the United States, including the Society for Arts and Crafts in Boston, and the Rogin Gallery in New York, photography continues to be the primary focus of his artistic pursuit. Presently, he works work with the American artist Robert Wilson as the chief installer of his video portraits in private residences, museums, and galleries around the world.
Bear Kirkpatrick lives and works in Portsmouth, NH.
For more of Bear’s work, log onto his website.