Kerby Smith: Imaginary Realism: Photo Quilts

In the world of pristine photographic prints, some people might consider it a heresy to print images on fabric and then sew on top of the image with thread.  Kerby Smith finds it quite liberating. He has been photographing for over 50 years, and has exhibited in a wide range of venues. For most of that time he printed on paper, matted and framed his photographs under glass. But, he was never comfortable seeing the image behind glass. He prefers the up close and personal relationship the viewer gets with the image when there is no glass barrier between them.

Before archival ink jet printers, Smith experimented with printing black and white photographs on canvas with a silver coating. He developed the canvas using garbage cans of developer, stop bath and fixer. He washed the printed canvas with a garden hose running into a plastic barrel. Then he would stretch the canvas for gallery presentation.

Today, in creating his digital images, he begins with a photographic capture which provides a first look at the scene. Then in his digital darkroom, he explores the possibilities of where the image can take himself and the viewer.  Smith says “I want to take the imagery to a place where it will put a smile on the viewer’s face when he or she interacts with it.  I often move a few degrees off reality to create the view I imagine. Sometimes, it is with an extended palette or color range, other times it is simply a change of viewpoint or scale”.

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