As I mentioned in a previous post, Photolucida introduced me to a lot of new work. Being in that environment is intoxicating. I also happen to love precious things that come in boxes. So when I cruised around the portfolio walk and saw Heidi Kirkpatrick‘s gorgeous images housed in the most delicious tin boxes, I literally whipped out my checkbook. (As a side note – this is not the first time I have been sucked into the image in a box. Last year I bought a modern daguerreotype by Curtis Wehrfritz – the image is amazing – forelorn woman + birds – go ahead, say it, but that leather case really sold it for me. . .)
Back to Heidi. I bought the image and then had a chance to review her work on the last slot of the last day. It only could have gone better had she brought me a cocktail.
Not only is the work personal, thoughtful and exquisite, Heidi is unassuming, enthusiastic and refreshingly positive. To get more of a sense of her and her work, I asked her a few questions. . .
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you came to be a photographer.
I am an artist and teacher living in Portland, Oregon. It’s quite a web I have woven to get to where I am today, and I feel many things in my life have chosen me, not the other way around.
My father-in-law bought me my first “real” camera for Christmas in 1992. He said he saw something in my pictures he liked. Nine months later my husband and I moved to Portland for his job – I came kicking and screaming. I didn’t know anyone, it rained all the time, and my husband was working long hours. I threw myself into photography. After moving to Portland I really learned who I was and how to be with myself. For the first time in my life I didn’t have a job or a car and found out I didn’t need either. I wandered the streets of Portland with my camera, took every class I could, and spent about 30 hours a week in the darkroom. I became a teacher’s assistant and ran the student gallery at PSU. Photography filled a void for me, and I have never looked back.
I called my father-in-law last week to thank him again for that camera.
The way you present your work is really unique. What brought you to move away from traditional prints and work in a different way?
I wanted to do something different. I was tired of putting a print in a frame on the wall. I wanted something more playful and approachable. I wanted to make work that could be touched. My frame became books, boxes, blocks and metal plates. I love the transparent quality of the film that allows what is beneath it to shine through.
Your work is very personal. Can you talk about how your own experiences have informed your photography?
I have dealt with a lot of physical pain over the years. I use my Gray’s Anatomy book as a means of working through that. The pages find their way into my work layered under those closest to me. The illustrations clothe, bind and wrap the body. I try to make something beautiful out of a situation that is not.
What inspires you?
PEOPLE – My husband. Honestly I am the luckiest girl. My friends and family, I have needed them every step of the way. My students, they enrich my life.
PLACES – My home is my safe haven and also where I create. Portland is where I became an artist. How lucky to have landed in such a beautiful city with a fabulous photo community. Portland inspires me. I became an artist in Portland. Portland nurtured me. I came here kicking and screaming but now I hope I never have to leave this wonderful city.
THINGS – Oh how I love things! I am a collector, a saver. I particularly like old things – things that have had a previous life.
Just so we can get a more well-rounded view of you, I think there are three things we all want to know. What is your favorite leisure sport? What is your most regrettable hairstyle? And what was your best talent show performance?
I never have been very sporty, but I love to walk. I love the sights, the sounds and the smells the world has to offer.
When I was in 10th grade I thought it would be good idea to get a permanent. There are times hair just doesn’t grow fast enough.
In 1967 I won a yoyo contest. My brother took second place.