Kerry Skarbakka

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Biography

Kerry Skarbakka is an artist and educator working in photography and video. He received his B.A. in Studio Art (sculpture) in 1994 from the University of Washington, and completed his MFA in Photography from Columbia College in Chicago in 2003. Solo exhibitions include the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Fifty-One Fine Art Photography-Antwerp, Belgium, Irvine Contemporary- Washington DC, and Lawrimore Project-Seattle. Group shows include the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Taubman Museum of Art, Virginia, Ahlen Art Museum,
Germany and the Warhol Museum. His work has been featured in such notable publications as Aperture, Afterimage, Art and America, and ArtReview International. Skarbakka has received funding and support from the Creative Capital Foundation,
the 1% for the Arts (City of Seattle) and the Illinois Arts Council. Additionally, he has appeared on live interviews on FOX, WGN and NBC’s Today Show. Skarbakka is currently a full-faculty of Digital Media and Photographic Studies at Prescott College, Arizona.

The Struggle to Right Oneself: Artist Statment

Philosopher Martin Heidegger described human existence as a process of perpetual falling, placing the responsibility of each individual to catch us from our own uncertainty. Such an unsettling prognosis of life informs this presented body of work. Over the past ten years of creating these scenarios, I continually returned to questions regarding the nature of control and its effects on this perceived responsibility. Beyond the basic laws that govern and maintain our equilibrium, we live in a world that constantly tests our stability in various other forms. War and rumors of war, issues of economic security, effects of globalization, and the politics of identity are all external gravities turned inward, serving to further threaten the precarious balance of self, exaggerating negative feelings of control.

This long-term, performance-based photographic work is in response to this delicate state, which relies on the shifting human conditions of the world that we inhabit. The exploration of this project resides in the sublime metaphorical space from where balance has been disrupted to the definitive point of no return. It asks the questions of what it means to resist the struggle, to simply let go. Do we fall? Can we fly? If we fly, then loss of control facilitates supreme control. What are the consequences of holding on?

These photographs are layered with references to an experienced background in sculpture and painting, and the cinematic quality of the work suggests the influence of commercial film. The dimensions are important to establish a direct relationship between the image and viewer. The images stand as ominous messages and reminders that we are all vulnerable to losing our footing and grasp. Moreover, they convey the primal qualities of the human condition as a precarious balancing act between the struggle against our desire to survive and our fantasy to transcend our humanness.

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