I was born in St. Louis, Missouri and grew up in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in the southeastern section of the state. Always interested in art, some of my favorite early experiences were taking lessons with a lot of grown-ups from a local artist. I remember vividly these sessions with my mother and the many odors and activities associated with media and beginning painting and drawing. I attended a high school with a strong theater department but no art curriculum so I worked with the theater teacher painting sets and scenic backdrops for a couple of plays/musicals each year. I also developed an interest in photography and was yearbook photographer. When I decided to formalize my education in art, I attended the University of Missouri/Columbia for undergraduate study of studio art and art history and later Michigan State University/Kresge Art Center for graduate study. At Michigan State, I focused mainly on painting with complementary work in drawing and printmaking.
Educational experiences and the rather lush environment of my early years fostered an ongoing interest in using gestural drawing and painting to capture the unique sensation of working directly from observation. Over the past several years I have focused on landscape and the figure in my art. Through these subjects, I try to communicate something unique and interesting about form and composition. Of primary concern is my interest in color and how it so fundamentally represents the medium of painting. I also explore ways to use line to express emotion and value to record the unique light observed in different environments.Over the years, I have had several opportunities to teach art: high school math and art in Texas, several community arts education sites in mid-Michigan, Lansing Community College and many years at Alma College. I appreciate these unique opportunities to share my deep and ongoing commitment to the study of fine art. It is very gratifying to interact with students at these important periods in their lives and assist them with their education and maturation. I also enjoy staying in touch and learning about their adventures after they graduate.
Carrie Anne Parks-Kirby
Carrie received her
B.F.A. from Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia with emphases in ceramics and drawing. After graduating she spent a year in an apprenticeship with the potter Takeo Sudo in Mashiko,
Her artwork consists of ceramic scuplture, numerous tiles and teapots made of hand-built, underglaze-painted earthenware and figurative mixed-media drawings.
" My work reflects an ongoing interest in historical ceramic forms while exploring contemporary themes through personal, often autobiographical, imagery.
"I have felt deeply the influence of those figures made for the tombs of ancient Chinese and Japanese nobles – Haniwa courtiers and farmers, Han dwellings and processions, T’ang horses and Q’uin soldiers. The eloquent gestures and facial expressions of Mayan and Olmec figures and the serene dignity of Etruscan terra cotta couples never fail to move me.
"Admiring the technical virtuosity of these sculptures, I find even more compelling the idea that forms so realistically specific may also be magically symbolic. That is how I would like my own work to function.
"Making art is my way of making sense of the world. It is how I ask questions and a way to find the connections between different ways of thinking and seeing. It is also the language with which I can best offer my thoughts to others.
"I didn’t mean to be a teacher – there were already too many teachers in my family! But my professors at Wesleyan – Joel Plum, Marcia Isaacson, and Tony Rice – were all dedicated teachers and wonderful artists. They set an example of professionalism, and their mentoring gave me a strong foundation for my own work as an artist. I had my first opportunities to teach in grad school, in the large beginning ceramics classes at VCU. Later, when I began searching for my first full-time teaching position, I applied only to small, private liberal arts colleges like the one that I’d attended – and that is how I learned about Alma College.
"For me, the best thing about teaching at Alma has been the students. Other schools may have more space, or equipment, or more convenient locations, but the kind of work that we can do with our students has kept me engaged, excited – here. Working to offer a comprehensive art program in a three-person department often seems overwhelming, but never, ever boring!"
The photographic medium has captivated me since childhood. The idea that I could look through a small window and ‘capture’ a moment, which in my youth appeared as capturing the world, was one of the most fascinating and magical aspects of photography. The historical and social implication photography has on the concept of ‘reality’ coupled with the camera’s ability to record and imply simultaneously is not far removed from my youthful understanding of capturing the world. Like many artists, I have ideas I want to communicate, ghosts from the past I wish to reveal, political statements I want to make and spiritual revelations I need to express. My images are tied together not so much by the subject matter I choose, but by constantly attempting to understand the ‘language’ of the medium in relationship to other mediums and to history. Hence you will see various processes including traditional, digital, installations and printmaking methods employed in my work.
Many people try to label me as a ‘formalist’, a ‘landscape photographer’, a modernist, etc., where in reality I am not one to be ‘boxed’ in any past movement or style. I am simply looking for ways to address a particular perspective and philosophy of life in unique ways that employ whatever the photographic medium offers through its diverse processes. Regardless of the process I choose, the underlying phenomena is always photography’s unique vision of ‘realism’.
Philosophically speaking my work usually has a dichotic feeling, juxtaposing images of life and death. I see my work as a paradox knowing full well that where there is life, there is death and vise versa. My work stands in a creative tension between opposites and does not need to be compartmentalized or logically analyzed. When it is analyzed it is normally done so out of left brained Cartesian logic that disregards connections and mysticism. Like Minor White, the idea that photography can transform what it records and can become metaphor is always a conscious reality for me. Unlike Minor White, I can use whatever process is needed to expand the medium and an idea. I also feel it is important to always consider photographic technique in conjunction with the elements and principles of design. Too often photographers speak of “f-stops”, long and short lenses, density, etc., and rarely speak of shape, line, pattern and rhythm. The merging of these vocabularies helps keep photography in the same plane as the other more traditional, less mechanical fine arts.
Digital art is a challenge to ‘photographic realism’ since it uses photographic images while taking them out of their original context and skewing the perspective or adding multi perspectives. Digital artists are more like the painters of the past who drew scenes from various locations and rebuilt the canvas in their studios.
Likewise, digital art allows photographers to use the realism of the camera while juxtaposing and ‘objectifying’ elements to create a subjective altered reality. I find this relationship between photography and digital image-making to be comparable to photography in the present day as photography must have been to printmaking in the 1840’s.
I see printmaking playing an important part in the merger between photography and digital art since digital images are printed out on papers generally used in printmaking. That being the case, we must now concern ourselves with the paper’s surface and what the manipulation of this surface has to do with photography.This is the direction I am presently pursuing while still creating traditional B&W images. This movement back and forth between traditional and new technologies always changes my images, perspective, vision, and understanding of photography.