by Sarah Phyllis Smith
Her work is grounded in photography’s inherent relationship with nostalgia and the ways in which a photograph can ask us to look backwards while remaining fixed in the present. Stemming from autobiographical experiences, her work explores expectations of and attachment to personal photographic images. Revisiting the same subjects over and over again, she spends years constructing a quiet narrative that casts the landscape as a leading character supported by a small group of individuals that inhabit that space. In their accumulation, a larger narrative that blends truth, poetry, and abstraction hums beneath the surface. She is interested in how the space within a photograph becomes a stage in which the past, present, and future become the same moment.
The photographs and film in Respite serve as a part of larger farewell love letter that has parlayed into a decade long investigation that includes a relentless photographing and rephotographing of Upstate New York. This recent iteration remains rooted in autobiographical narrative but with a move towards breaking objects into their simplest form. A man unintentionally cries while another man struggles to breathe. Everyone here is situated against a simultaneously changing and unchanging landscape.
Sarah Phyllis Smith (b. 1986 Middletown, NY) is a photographer and educator based in Utica, NY where she is Assistant Professor of Photography at PrattMWP. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions includeWhere the Great Lakes Leapto the Seaat The Shed Space in Brooklyn, NY, Fish Hotelat Vanderbilt Universityand North South, South Northat the PrattMWP Gallery. Her work has also recently shown at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Ground Floor Gallery (Nashville), Whitespace Gallery (Atlanta), Roman Susan Gallery (Chicago), and Wedge Projects (Chicago). Her work has been supported by several publications and organizations including Silver Eye Center for Photography, From Here On Out, Musée Magazine, Salt Box Studio, Don’t Take Pictures Magazine, Light Leaked, Vulgaris Magazine, and others. Her work was also used on the cover of Iranian literary magazine, Dastan.