May 16, 2011 / Art
That contemporary America is captivated by the phenomenon of celebrity is hardly a contestable observation. …
Cultivated from his experiences at L’Abri communities in England and Sweden, these works from Kurt Simonson document place, community, and beyond—the presence of things mystical in life’s ordinary rhythms, lived in quiet abundance. Simonson’s images are elegantly understated, poignantly simple, and disarmingly alluring. They provide respite as they draw our focus into an experience of stillness, a recognition (as recalled in Hebrew Scriptures) that God’s presence is found in a “low whisper, a thin silence.” The photographs are unburdened by complexity or the critical weight of art history. Although archival in nature, the movement of light through each image hints at the activity of the present, not energy relinquished to the past. And although no people are recorded within the photographic frames, there continues a spoor of human participation—reflection, enjoyment, work, and study—all around. There is peacefulness. And even as we sit far away from those L’Abri communities, Simonson’s photographs invite us to join in the heritage of those pilgrims who wander to shelter.
[Art by Kurt Simonson; Words by Simonson and Jen Grabarczyk]
Jen Grabarczyk-Turner is a multidisciplinary artist currently based in Corpus Christi, Texas. She holds an MFA in studio art from Claremont Graduate University and an MA in theology and culture from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. She is currently transitioning away from her position as art editor for The Other Journal to return to her work in the studio.
Kurt Simonson is an associate professor of photography at Biola University in La Mirada, California, and an artist whose work is regularly exhibited nationally and internationally, including recent exhibits at the Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins, Colorado, and the Foto8 Gallery in London, United Kingdom. His work has been featured in Fraction Magazine; he recently received a Curator’s Choice award from CENTER Santa Fe; and he was chosen as a finalist in Photolucida’s Critical Mass (2012). Simonson’s work explores the tensions surrounding our ideas of home and community, pilgrimage and displacement, belonging and connecting. More information and images can be found at www.kurtsimonson.com.