Urban City Series - Sherry Karver
Identity and Perception - Urban City series with Narrative Text

Pushing traditional boundaries of oil painting, photography, and narrative text, I have combined them to create a unique hybrid that confronts today's individual and societal issues so rampant in our fast-paced, impersonal metropolitan areas: alienation, loneliness, loss of identity, history, memory, self-image, and how others view us.

My mixed media, photo-based work originates from photographs I have taken on city streets in New York, Paris, Milan, and in iconic buildings such as Grand Central Terminal and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY. These are one-of-a-kind works on wood panels, (not photo editions), and all of the color is hand-painted with oils.

I began writing text over some of the figures in my photos as a way to personalize or individualize them, and make them stand out from the crowd. These brief narratives about the people are from my imagination, based solely on their appearance or stance. By using text in my work, it adds another layer, and gives the viewer a chance to “experience” the artwork, and become part of the process by reading it.

I superimpose these ”biographies” on top of the individuals, almost as if they are wearing their stories like an article of clothing. I give a little bit of fictional history about the person; where they are from, their age, what they do, their hopes, their dreams and aspirations, and often something embarrassing or personal that they would rather not have revealed. The figures are often caught in movement, conveying our individual journeys, where we are all "collectively alone".

I see a connection between photography and history, sometimes combining vintage B&W photos with my contemporary shots, and incorporating ‘ghost-like apparitions’. These figures represent the passage of time – all the people that have been in the exact same place but at a different moment. We are all connected in this time continuum, even if we aren’t aware of it. My work embraces the contemporary non-linear view of time with its randomness, spontaneity, and chance occurrences.

The concept of juxtaposing the past and the present, has led to my interest in photographing people among the ancient sculptures at the Metropolitan Museum, including giving anthropomorphic qualities to the sculptures themselves.

In my work the documentary nature of the B&W photograph merges with the painterly qualities of oil, establishing a dialogue between the two. I mount my black & white images on top of 2” deep wood panels, and hand paint them with numerous layers of oil glazes to build up the color. The final surface has a glossy UV resin coating so the viewer can see their own reflection, and become ‘part’ of the photo-based work.

Urban City Series - Sherry Karver
Photography - Digital Distortion / Movement Interrupted series

It seems that we are in a difficult period in our history, where things are disintegrating and falling apart, which is what my work reflects. At the same time I try to see the beauty and hopefulness in the uncertainty.

I am embracing chance, serendipity and random occurrences as the basis of this current photography series called "Digital Distortion/ Movement Interrupted". I'm 'capturing' images off of a TV screen, intentionally waiting to photograph when the screen becomes 'pixelated' and fragmented due to uneven reception.

By harnessing the visual effects of data corruption for aesthetic purposes, I am allowing fortuitous glitches to create the images that I am photographing, rather than using any app, algorithm or Photoshop. I only crop the images.

This puts me "in the moment" of a dance between the subject on the TV screen pixelating, and me being there to capture that split second in a photograph before it vanishes forever. This process is experiential, creating images that are fluid, authentic, and could not happen by planning.

The images appear for just a moment and become deconstructed, stretching the colors, lines, and shapes into a new format, from recognizable to almost abstract. The squares that arbitrarily appear on the image represent to me how our technological world interacts with, and effects people and the environment itself.

This method of working is exciting because it is almost like magic, where the TV is 'channeling' these shots and I am surrendering control, and being open to the possibilities of the universe entering the picture.

They are printed as Dye Sublimation on Metal in small editions. I've chosen to use metal rather than printing on paper because the metal substrate shines through the surface, adding another visual layer of depth. The industrial feel of the metal works well with contemporary digital technology and the glitches that occur. As light hits the image from different angles, the photo ignites, almost as if it were lit from behind.

Surveillance Series - Sherry Karver
Surveillance Series

Surveillance now occurs as a routine part of our daily lives.  In this series I am using both downloaded photos from public Internet Webcams in different parts of the world, and images from airport x-ray screening machines as the sources for my photo-based oil paintings and suitcase installation.

I see surveillance simply as a fact of our current times, and in viewing these public Webcams on the Internet, I realized that surveillance cameras have taken on another unexpected purpose. They have become the historians of our contemporary era. They capture us in our everyday lives, going about our business, usually unaware that we are being observed. Never before in history have we been so documented. I have found it fascinating to utilize these images within a fine art context, regardless of what their political implications might be.

Occasionally a person does see the Webcam mounted on a building, and waves or holds up a sign in a vain effort to connect with somebody out in the world. This brings up underlying issues of loneliness and alienation in our society, where we are "collectively alone". Often our only interaction is through the Internet, rather than face to face. At any time of the day or night, we can watch and capture images of people anywhere in the world. We can be "somewhere" without leaving the comfort of our own living room. This creates an undeniable feeling of voyeurism, which in its own way helps to establish a kind of anonymous connection with the rest of humanity.

The other part of this series involves images that I photographed off of airport screening machines that show the contents of suitcases, much like seeing an x-ray of our bodies. The usual paraphernalia, shoes, umbrellas, and eyeglasses can be seen, but I decided to "enhance" these images with the addition of more ominous items, such as guns, bombs, firecrackers, scissors, and liquid filled bottles. This was done partly tongue-in-cheek, but also because these items directly relate to our present day fears of what we imagine might be lurking in someone's bags. In the past we never gave much thought to our carry-on luggage, but things have changed whether we want to admit it or not.

Amusement Park Series - Sherry Karver
Amusement Park Series

This series of photo-based works are from photographs I have been taking of people on rides at amusement parks, carnivals and county fairs. By blurring the distinctions between photography, digital manipulation, and oil painting, a synthesis is created, and the work becomes multi-layered in both meaning and appearance.

The images are printed in black & white with numerous layers of oil glazes hand painted on for color. I am combining the old master technique of oil glazing with contemporary photo/digital technology.

The rides in these works represent flying, and may at first glance appear to be a nostalgic view of simpler times, perhaps a childhood past, that we often think of when we refer to "the good old days". But, more lies beneath the surface. In some of the pieces, the figures' feet often do not touch the ground but are "up in the air", which relates to the state of mind of feeling ungrounded or unconnected in the world.

The movement of the rides, some a circular swirl of blurred figures, some up and down, while others, a more tranquil journey through space, are like our own personal journeys in life. Sometimes turbulent or exciting, while other times peaceful and calm, but always in a state of motion.