Critical Mass Top 50, 2013

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Bear Kirkpatrick

Wallportrait Ashley 2, The Triumph of Death

Wallportrait Ashley 2, The Garden of Earthly Delights

Wallportrait Jayeen

Wallportrait Lena

Wallportrait Shireen

Wallportrait Madeleine

Wallportrait Ashley

Wallportrait Catrina

Wallportrait Isabella

Wallportrait Amanda
Bear Kirkpatrick

As a very young boy I went deaf slowly enough that I was able to hide it for a year by learning to read lips and read visual clues. This handicap offered a kind of compensation: the power to witness. I began to see hidden things, other people living inside my mother and my father, strange flashes of other beings that arose as something fugitive, something dangerous and not-them. I couldn't say—and still can't—what they are, who they are, or from where they came, but I saw them and still do. Surgeries a year or so later repaired my hearing, but I have been transfixed, fascinated, and frightened ever since by things that change shape or appear about to. I believe all of our senses work together to create composites of experience—of people and places—and much of the material gathered is thrown away in the compositing if it doesn’t fit the larger image. My own process of making images with a camera is a way for me to bring some of that material back, to force the unseen to make itself present, if only for the span of a flash of light. All of my artistic explorations are attempts to reveal something about the liminal shades that live within things. The images from my current series "Wallportraits" are an attempt to approach this fugitive being within the human face, draw it out, and capture it. Because the denial of something always results in the creation of something else, to deny a person their hair—to isolate the face—allows the face to show itself in all of its frightful beauty. But it also brings something with it, something more, something ancient from the collective memory of our species. I use Aldrovandi’s horse, Bosch’s “The Triumph of Death,” Morris’ wallpaper, Audubon’s birds as images that set tones for that fugitive state that I see, images that speak the same language or create the same music, a kind of mirage caught in a flash.