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international photography annual 3 exhibition-in-print
online resource

Sarah Phyllis Smith
Murray, Kentucky

Murray State University, Lecturer

detail image


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 are objects that promise something permanent yet their very existence is a direct result of how ephemeral the experiences they represent are. They fall pitifully short in capturing the essence of what they want to represent, yet we still expect them to do it. My work, while stemming from the intimate experiences of an individual, investigates our relationship, expectations, and attachment to the photographic image. Each photograph asserts itself as a permanent document while also exposing the failure and impossibility of preservation. The images are pragmatic and direct, photographed with an objective distance that hovers between the intimate and the analytic. I'm interested in questioning why we both need and want these images and where the line is drawn between these two ideas. Documentation of past realities can be reflected on with both sorrow and eagerness as the presence of such images presents a glimpse of our past, present, and future all in one moment. The expectation that photography can conserve our presence in the world is undone through sequenced images of fractured ice, ailing pets, and the nostalgia of vernacular images and documents.





born: 1986, Middletown, New York



The University of Iowa, MFA, 2013

The University of Iowa, MA, 2012

Murray State University, BFA, 2008


selected awards/honors

Artist Grant and Residency, Vermont Studio Center, 2013

Virgil M. Beall Fellowship, The University of Iowa, 2013

Honorable Mention, Midwest Photo Emerge, Midwest Center for Photography, 2012

Paula Patton Grahame Scholarship, The University of Iowa, 2012


selected solo or two-person exhibits

I Can't Love Nobody Else But You,Sheetz Gallery of Penn State Altoona, Altoona, Pennsylvania, 2014

An Island is Unreliable, Janice Mason Art Museum, Cadiz, Kentucky, 2014

Needing A Want, Mary Ed Mecoy Hall Gallery, Murray, Kentucky, 2014

When Two Things Are Racing, We Will Root For One Of Them, Porch Gallery, Iowa City, Iowa, 2013


selected group shows

27th annual McNeese Works on Paper Exhibition, Abercrombie Gallery, Lake Charles, Louisiana, 2004

The Visual Narrative, Minneapolis Photo Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2014

Show, Peanuts, Snow, Eve Drewelowe Gallery, Iowa City , Iowa, 2013

Right Here Over There, Lexington Art League, Lexington, Kentucky, 2012





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