The Heidi Kirkpatrick Interview
If you’ve ever been to a portfolio review event that Heidi Kirkpatrick is attending, you can spot easily her as she is always surrounded by a crowd. Her unique and beautifully crafted photographic objects are a sight to behold, and trust me, everyone wants to see and/or buy them. Heidi is about to open a massive one-woman-show, Lost and Found, at the Rayko Photo Center in San Francisco–67 exquisite pieces will engage the gallery. Opening January 17th and running through February 23rd, the exhibition represents her 2012 Critical Mass Solo Show Award Exhibition. The opening reception is January 23rd, 6-8pm. The exhibition first opened at the Center of Fine Art Photography in Colorado in October, 2013.
The remarkable part of Heidi’s visual expression is that much of her work, Lost and Found in particular, is very personal, yet universal and meaningful to all that encounter it. Her work examines the female figure, family narratives and contemporary issues of being a woman. The loss of her father in 2013 had a profound affect on her image making and brought to the surface an exploration of family in a significant and artful way. Her new series includes cyanotypes framed in vintage embroidery hoops, dinner wear featuring images of her father and two grandfathers) in an edition of 12 that are also dishwasher safe (someone can purchase a whole set of dishes!), a watch ring displayed on vintage 3D glove form with opera length glove, and unique size 6 dress made from cyanotype photograms of sea fan coral, displayed on dress form. Other series have reflected film positives applied to objects such as vintage children’s blocks, books, mahjong tiles, ashtrays, and tins, creating unique photo objects that take on a new life.This gift of rethinking how we see a photographic image has been well celebrated. Her work has put in in the Critical Mass Top 50 for the past three years, and I can only imagine that we will see her there again.
Heidi has exhibited widely over the last ten years and her work is held in numerous private and public collections including The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Springfield Museum of Art, Ohio; OHSU Corporate Collection, Portland, Oregon, and The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, Louisiana. Heidi was also selected for the Photolucida Critical Mass Top 50 in 2011, 2012, and 2013, and was awarded the solo show award by Hamidah Glasgow of The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado in 2012. She is represented by G. Gibson Gallery, Seattle, Washington; Panopticon Gallery in Boston, Massachusetts; Wall Space Gallery, Santa Barbara, California, Dina Mitrani Gallery, Miami, Florida and High Noon Culture in Beijing, China. She is fine art photographer and educator based in Portland, Oregon.
I thought I’d let Heidi describe her process about the image above, Big Shoes to Fill:
one of the things I brought home after his funeral was this beautiful pair of wingtips
I brought them home to photograph
I found the form I wanted to use for the piece
I printed the image
I laid it out
I always use a template for my work before I cut the film
typically a white acid free paper
I had the piece laid out
I wanted to make this big manly piece
for my dad
I bought a beautiful caramel colored paper almost the exact color of the shoes
then I pulled the template out and revealed the floral pattern on the tray
and it really struck me
this wasn’t at all what I had in mind
I asked my husband he thought and he said he thought it was too playful
I decided to move in this direction with big shoes to fill
I felt it brought more of me and my sensibilities to the work
a much more feminine take
the thing about these shoes is
my dad was a military guy
captain in the navy
he always shine and oiled his shoes
all of them (he had about 12 pair of amazing cowboy boots and about 15 pair of these beautiful florsheim wingtips)
he shined them up to the week he died
this pair were never worn
I printed the image in my shoe size
not easy work
Throughout my career my work has explored the female figure, family narratives and contemporary issues of being a woman. My intent is to create works of art that are approachable in form and content and are interactive, yet fragile.
I use photographs to transform found objects into pieces of art. Fusing transparent figurative and family portraits with books, boxes and tins, I create a playful tension between imagery and object. My work breathes new life into these objects, yet they leave hints of the past in their lovingly worn appearances.
I live with a substantial amount of physical pain and have for many years. In my continual search for an answer, as well as my way of dealing with the unexplained, I dissect my Gray’s Anatomy book. The pages find their way into my work, layered under images of those closest to me. The illustrations bind, clothe and wrap the body. Putting the inside on the outside, I wear my heart on my sleeve.These works depart from the formality of a frame as they are arranged on a table top or a shelf, often placed side by side to reveal the complexities of the feminine allure while drawing on memories and visual formality.
These works depart from the formality of a frame as they are arranged on a table top or a shelf, often placed side by side to reveal the complexities of the feminine allure while drawing on memories and visual formality.
The Heidi Kirkpatrick Interview
Tell us a little bit about your growing up and how did you discover photography?
I am from a small town in ohio. I lived in one house until I moved out after I turned 18
I have 2 older sisters and a younger brother
I was constantly getting in trouble
I would get whipped for taking my clothes off in the sandbox in our backyard
I liked fire
I still do
I stood in the corner
I would get sent to my room – one time when I was already in trouble for something else, I drew all over myself, my sheets and bedspread and the walls with permanent magic marker
I would get my mouth washed out with soap!
I cut my own hair (badly)
wore crazy outfits
liked candy and cigarettes (still do, but I quit smoking jan I 2011, I have one every now and again)
loved to talk on the phone (still do)
I could go on and on (see next question)
lets get on to the photography part
I came to photography later in life, after years of working in restaurants and bartending and all the craziness that lifestyle brings with it.
I was 33 when my father in-law bought me a “real” camera, said he saw something in my pictures that he liked – i made photographs of my friends and family (still do) and also when we traveled (still do that too!) using a point and shoot disposable camera
Later that year (1993) we moved from Dallas TX to Portland, I came kicking and screaming, (now I hope I never have to leave). I found myself without a job or a car for the first time in a very long time, in a city where I didn’t have any friends and my husband was working long hours. I signed up for a college b and w photo class and hit the streets of my new city with my new camera. I was hooked when the first image came up in the tray and I still feel that magic. There is a lot more to that story but I will just say, I traded one addiction for another and photography truly saved my life.
I have a feeling that you were a wild teenager, am I wrong?
you are dead on
i was bored in school
I liked to chase boys and drive fast cars
I had my drivers license suspended 3 times before I was 18
I still drive a fast car
How did you get started with your unique processes?
I used to say, is my art too regular?
I was introduced to printing on film in an alt process class in the late 90s, I fell in love with the film positive.
After making copious amounts of museum quality fiber prints, I wanted to make work that was more approachable in form, to make pieces that were more interactive, that you could really live with and touch. I didn’t want to continually make the same print; I wanted to make unique objects. This kind of work also feeds my shopping addiction! Finding the forms and then matching them to the imagery is the puzzle that continually entertains me.
Then I would say, is my art too different?
I was beginning to wonder if anybody was ever going to figure it out.
I’m getting a little tired of seeing your name on the Critical Mass Top 50 list (congrats yet again, my friend)…you are such a hard working photographer and seem to have a deep well for ideas and imagery. How are you handling the fame and what inspires you?
I feel very fortunate
I do work hard but it is easy when you love what you do
working in photography every day
either on my own work or working with my students, I teach open tray process at the high school level, my students constantly amaze me and they also keep me on my toes.
as far as the fame,
I am having a great time making the work,
talking about the work and meeting new people along the way.
I am inspired by many things in this life, relationships, memory, being a woman, nature and nurture, history, storytelling, fairy tales, my community, my students, the human body, family, again I could go on and on. I am like a little kid you are taking on a walk, constantly lagging behind being enamored by the smallest thing that catches my eye and brings me so much joy.
Besides that glass of wine, what do you do to relax–away from photography?
oh yes the wine
besides that I love to walk
typically straight out my front door
year round (yes in Portland)
but preferably by the ocean
walking clears the head
I love to work in my yard
Oregon makes you look like a really good gardener
I have had a love of plants my whole life
I love to have friends over and hang out in the back yard and have that glass of wine.
I also love cooking shopping and reading, not necessarily in that order!
Any advice for an emerging photographer?
and then practice some more.
I am still practicing.
What’s new in your world?
( I had to think long and hard about this, I even went upstairs to ask doug what was new in my world) I am a creature of habit, I don’t want for much and I really like old things, familiar things. I don’t need a lot of fancy equipment or a new car or clothes etc, Doug and I have been married a long time and are very happy together in our home here in Portland, next time you are in Portland I would love to have you over
I have traveled far and wide this year. 4 countries, 3 of which in a matter of 4 weeks!
I walked the shores of both the atlantic and the pacific
i was part of 2 very special trips alongside fellow photographers this year, with old friends and new, after both of which I experienced separation anxiety!
I traveled with my work to Santa Barbara, Boston, Colorado and China!
I made the biggest show I have ever made (67 pieces), for critical mass 2012 award show, Hamidah told me to go crazy and I did. I filled the space with work that is fueled by my life, about family, love, and loss. I am ever grateful for the opportunity and beyond elated that that show is traveling to RayKo!
but, with that said – the biggest thing that has happened to me is…….
whats new in my world is I lost my dad may 6th. There is only one way to know what that feels like. Death is not easy on the living, it brings up emotions you didn’t even know you had. It has not been easy to maneuver, I am ever grateful I have my art to help me work through some of my feelings and questions.
And finally, what would be your perfect day?
My perfect day would be
to be at home (my safe haven)
come downstairs and doug has already made the coffee
work the puzzles (and complete them correctly)
work in my studio for several hours, in my pajamas
eat lunch standing at the cutting board
go for a walk around my neighborhood, still in my pajamas + boots
back to my studio to work for a couple of more hours
roast a chicken for dinner (and make soup with the carcass tomorrow)
build a fire in the fireplace
open the wine
call a friend or my mom and talk on the phone!
have dinner with my husband
take a bath
go to bed when I am tired and get up when I wake up
unless of course I am in Paris
but honestly every day is a gift
Posts on Lenscratch may not be reproduced without the permission of the Lenscratch staff and the photographer.
Yunqian Lin: EntropyJuly 7th, 2020
Leslie Jean-Bart: Echoes of ImaginationJune 20th, 2020
Cathy Cone: Hand Painted PhotographsJune 13th, 2020