Kirby Krieger

Modern Still-Lifes Photographic
Thoughts on Passing Hours

KK_Web_LogoI was born and raised in Pittsburgh. I attended Shady Side Academy, then Yale University, where I majored in Literature, regularly took art courses, and spent a lot of time in Sterling Library. During a semester’s leave-of-absence, I worked as an au-pair in France. After college, I went to Germany and worked as a 3rd-12th grade substitute teacher (all subjects) at an American school in Germany. My endlessly inquisitive students gave me a love for teaching. A number of jobs up and down the East Coast followed while I pursued my dream of painting. I met Karen, my future wife, in a graduate-level painting class at Maryland Institute, College of Art. I ran a small contracting firm, discovered I was good with computers, and founded a small-business computer consultancy. I interviewed for, and was offered, a job at Microsoft, which I turned down when told I would not have any spare time in which to paint. In 1992 I moved to a tiny apartment in Brooklyn and began commuting to Manhattan for graduate studies in painting. In 1994 I was awarded an MFA in Figurative Art from the New York Academy of Art.

I regularly taught drawing and painting at community arts organizations, specializing in beginning students. I served as Artist-in-Residence at Maryland Hall for the Arts (Annapolis, Md.), during which time I created a new course for adult beginning painting students. Maryland Hall featured my paintings in two solo shows. Sales from those shows and others led me to focus on floral Still-Lifes, which I painted, slowly, for several years, in a tall-ceilinged studio overlooking Gate 3 of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Karen and I married, on a sunny afternoon in Annapolis, in 1998.

In 2003 we moved to Pittsburgh: Karen had accepted a job working at Carnegie-Mellon University School of Music; and I wanted to be closer to my parents, one of whom was ailing. I moved my studio into an out-of-the-way corner of downtown, renting the north-facing end of the top floor of the old American Thermoplastics building. I taught at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts for several years, and also privately in my studio. In 2007 I took a break from painting in order to work in politics. After the 2008 election, for the first time as an artist, I picked up a camera, and began to make pictures with it. Having followed my own advice to eschew cameras while learning to draw, I was surprised to enjoy photography: the immediacy of its perception, the extensive control available in the digital darkroom, and the sensuality of the prints I made with pigmented ink on paper. Today the camera and the printer are my primary tools for picture-making.

My photographs have been accepted in several juried shows locally and nationally, including the Three Rivers Arts Festival (2011), Pennsylvania’s “Art of the State” (2012), and the MFA Gallery (2011, 2012, 2013). I keep a portfolio of images of my photographic work on-line:

Gulden DraakI had long painted before I picked up a camera — and then one day I started to “take pictures” in addition to making them. I very much liked how the camera re-presented the visual world, the quickness of its perception, the challenges of the digital darkroom, and the experience of being in the world as a picture-taker.

Making photograph-based prints is quite different than painting: conceptually, mentally, physically, and temporally. The “stuff” is different — sprayed-on inks vs. colored mud — the application is different — expensive, complex machines vs. sticks topped with bundled animal hair wielded in the hand — the possibilities are extremely different — seeing or creating and then recording an intensely-detailed instance of light vs. slowly aggregating form and then meaning over extended work sessions — but the final products can be — and in my case, are — deliberately similar. What I like in the physical world and what I want to say about it can be expressed through pictures. I now paint with a camera and a printer.

Still Life has always appealed to me with its quiet, steady, uninterrupted pace, and the open-ended possibilities it presents for formal and semantic experimentation. Still-Life photography has allowed me to do things that would be much more difficult to do with paint. I love the specificity of the camera’s recordings. I’m very happy with the control of color and light that digitization has brought to the art of photography.

The objects depicted in the Still-Life pictures are things that I’ve either collected over the years or recently purchased at a grocery store. None holds any fixed meaning to me — they are actors on a small stage, occasionally shown performing, more often seen for what they are and how they look. What they are and how they look, and how their interaction with each other and with light creates a meaning that can be shared, enthralls me.

My goal in these pictures is to give you a small but inexhaustible aesthetic experience: a moment of recognition, a connection.