SHERRY KARVER - Artist Statement
My mixed media, photo-based work originates from photographs I have taken on city streets in New York, Paris, Milan, San Francisco, and in iconic buildings such as Grand Central Terminal and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY. These are one-ofa-kind works, not photo editions, and all of the color is hand-painted with oils.
Pushing traditional boundaries of oil painting, photography, and text, I have combined them to create a unique hybrid that confronts today's individual and societal issues so rampant in our fast-paced, impersonal urban areas: alienation, loneliness, loss of identity, history, memory, and how we view others.
I began writing text over some of the figures in my photos as a way to personalize or individualize people, and make them stand out from the crowd. These brief narratives are from my imagination, based solely on one's appearance or stance. By using text in my work, it adds another layer, and gives the viewer a chance to “experience” the artwork, and become part of the process by reading it. There is a light humor to my work but I ask the spectator to go further and deeper.
I superimpose these ”biographies” on top of the individuals, almost as if they are wearing their stories like an article of clothing. I give a little bit of fictional history about the person; where they are from, their age, what they do, their hopes, their dreams and aspirations, and often something embarrassing or personal that they would rather not have revealed.
In some works where I don't use text, the figures are in silhouette, obliterating any specific identity. The figures are often caught in movement, conveying our individual journeys, where we are all "collectively alone".
I see a connection between photography and history, sometimes combining vintage B&W photos with my contemporary shots, and incorporating ‘ghost-like apparitions’. These figures represent the passage of time – all the people that have been in the exact same place but at a different moment. We are all 'interconnected' in this time continuum, even if we aren’t aware of it. My work embraces the contemporary nonlinear view of time with its randomness, spontaneity, and chance occurrences.
The concept of juxtaposing the past and the present, has led to my interest in photographing people among the ancient sculptures at the Metropolitan Museum, including giving anthropomorphic qualities to the sculptures themselves.
In my work the documentary nature of the B&W photograph merges with the painterly qualities of oil, establishing a dialogue between the two. I mount my black & white images on top of 2” deep wood panels, and hand paint them with numerous layers of oil glazes to build up the color. The final surface has a glossy UV resin coating so the viewer can see their own reflection, and become ‘part’ of the photo-based work.