Originally from Middletown, New York, Sarah Phyllis Smith currently lives in Chicago where she teaches photography at Chicago State University. She received a Master of Fine Arts from The University of Iowa and a BFA from Murray State University. Recent exhibitions include Where the Great Lakes Leap to the Sea at The Shed Space in Brooklyn, NY, Sharpless at Fluorescent Gallery in Knoxville, TN, and Developed Work at the Midwest Center for Photography in Wichita, KS. Sarah’s work has recently been featured by several online publications including Don’t Take Pictures Magazine, Light Leaked, AINT-BAD Magazine, Vulgaris Magazine and Locate Arts. 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.