Photolucida – Kurt Simonson


Not to be Opened Until My Death

What immediately hits me with Kurt’s work is light. Not just the quality, but his use of light is emotional, illustrative and just flat out beautiful. I have been watching Kurt’s work make its way into the national photographic dialogue in the last year, first with a view on my favorite daily read, Lenscratch. His submission to our New Directions exhibition gained him notice not only by me, but Ann Jastrab, curator of  ND13. I was thrilled to see his work on the walls of the gallery.  There is a quiet beauty in Kurt’s work. An understanding of his subject, without judgement, but with a certain love and respect for person and place. It comes through in every frame. We have highlighted Kurt once before with his Thin Silence work, and we show you Northwoods Journal today. Take a look. Let me know what you think.


Winter Bonfire

About the Northwoods Journal –

I must have been ten or eleven years old when I first ran across the peculiar envelope that bore my grandmother’s shaky handwriting: “not to be opened until my death.” Tucked in her top dresser drawer amidst other valuables, its striking phrase burned into my memory at a young age. I don’t know exactly when, and I don’t know how often, but I know I visited the envelope numerous times, pondering what could be inside. What could be so important (or tragic) that it must be kept secret in this way?

I have never been able to shake the hold that piece of paper had over me. More than just a letter—I was haunted by what it represented. Loaded with latent meaning, yet withholding its story, the letter is my experience of growing up in Minnesota. My family roots go deep into the folklore of the rural Northwoods and retain their hold, despite time and distance. It’s a place where my grandfather was a lumberjack, and a place where cars go to die; it’s where kids have playtime adventures, and where secrets go to be buried. It is a merger of myth and memory
that grows more complex as time passes.



About Kurt Simonson –

Kurt Simonson (b. 1977 in St Paul, Minnesota) is an artist/educator based in Long Beach, CA, whose work explores the tensions surrounding our ideas of home and community, pilgrimage and displacement, belonging and connecting. Whether exploring the myth and memory of his own upbringing in Minnesota, or taking intimate portraits close to home, questions about family and community remain at the heart of his curiosity.


Mikey’s Truck


Norma’s Bible

Kurt’s work is regularly exhibited throughout the country and internationally, including recent exhibits at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, CO; Wall Space Gallery in Santa Barbara, CA; RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco, CA; and the Foto8 Gallery in London. His work has been published in the London Sunday Times Magazine, Fraction Magazine and Lenscratch. In 2012 he received a Curator’s Choice award from CENTER Santa Fe, and he was chosen as a finalist in Photolucida’s Critical Mass.


Ryan (with Pop Tart)

Kurt teaches at Biola University in La Mirada, CA, where he is the Associate Professor of Photography in the Art Department. He received a B.S. in Studio Art from Biola University in 2000, a Secondary Education Credential from Whittier College in 2003, and an M.F.A. in Photography from California State University, Long Beach, in 2006.


Home is Where…

To see more of Kurt’s beautiful work, please log onto his website.

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