Shawn Michelle Smith offers us a multifaceted view of vernacular photography through her artistic reinterpretations and thought provoking writings. Currently teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she shares with us how she looks at and plays with both personal and public images that reflect America's complex culture of yesterday and today.
What first brought you to reflect on vernacular photography and focus your academic career in this field?
One of the things that intrigues me most about photography is the vast range of cultural forms it takes. It is used by scientists, artists, reporters, and activists, as well as ordinary people every day. Photography is ubiquitous, and people use it to record their daily lives, to create personal archives, and to document their histories. I began to study photography because I was interested in cultural history, and it seemed that this single technology could open up many different pathways into understanding American culture.
Shawn Michelle Smith, Untitled, from the series Excess and Accident, silver gelatin prints, 24 x 30 inches
Read the full interview here