Sarah Phyllis Smith (b. 1986 Middletown, NY) is a photographer and educator currently based in Utica, NY where she is Assistant Professor of Photography at Pratt MWP. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include Where the Great Lakes Leap to the Sea at The Shed Space in Brooklyn, NY and Fish Hotel at Vanderbilt University’s Space 204. Her work has also recently shown at Whitespace Gallery, Roman Susan Gallery, Wedge Projects, VERSA, and The Midwest Center for Photography. Her work has been featured by several online publications including Don’t Take Pictures Magazine, Light Leaked, AINT-BAD Magazine, Vulgaris Magazine, and Photo-Emphasis and was featured on the cover of Iranian literary magazine, Dastan. Sarah currently serves as the Assistant Artistic Director of the New York State Summer School of the Arts: Media Arts program.
The greatest failure of photography is its inherent nostalgia. It forces us to constantly look backwards, filling present voids with imperfect depictions of the past. Photographs promise something permanent yet their very existence is a direct result of how ephemeral the experiences they represent actually are. They fall pitifully short in capturing the essence of what we want them to represent, yet we still expect them to act as stand-ins for the past. My work, while stemming from autobiographical experiences, investigates our relationship, expectations, and attachment to the photographic image. The images are direct, photographed with an objective distance that hovers between the intimate and the analytic. Linear time is disregarded as the very existence of a photograph is an interruption to that system. Photographs can be reflected on with both sorrow and delight as their presence suggests a glimpse of our past, present, and future all in one moment. The expectation that photography can be equated with foreverness is undone through images of unending landscapes, ailing pets, and the nostalgia associated with vernacular images and documents.