April 7 – May 5, 2018
The photographs in Kristin Skees’ exhibition “Close-Knit” present an intriguing approach to the long-standing tradition of portraiture. When viewers approach these photographs from the artist’s ongoing Cozy Portraits series, they are denied central components that ordinarily allow for a deeper reading of a portrait: a sitter’s facial expression or the nuances that lie in a sitter’s body position. Instead, the subjects of Skees’ photos, who are often close friends and family, don knitted “cozies” that
obscure their physical features. Like an ill-fitting handmade sweater, the cozies envelop the subjects’ bodies and make for portraits that are both specific and universal, representational and abstract.
Skees’ Cozy Portraits draw upon methods that artists have implemented in portraiture for centuries. In an era when portraits were only afforded to the wealthiest of patrons, artists not only provided a likeness of their sitter, but often included carefully selected items and belongings that further expressed the sitter’s status and identity. Continuing this practice, Skees’ subjects are inserted into scenes that invite viewers to reflect on who these people might be and what their stories are. In Mom and Dad
(2009), two cozied figures pose in front of a silver Airstream in the expansive parking lot of an American super-retailer. In Julie (2010), a high-heeled figure uses a vintage slimming machine that straps a vibrating belt around their waist. Even while the
subjects’ bodies remain hidden, viewers can begin to consider moments that exist beyond the photograph, like the time spent on the road in the travel trailer or the hours spent vibrating fat away, providing an engaging interpretation of the image.
Although the works’ final presentation exists in photographic form, the extensive process between the artist and her subjects remains key to Skees. Beginning with the simple question, “Can I cozy you?” the work takes direction from her relationship, dialogue, and collaboration with the person being cozied. Drawing upon her history in fibers, each cozy is specifically designed with the person in mind and knitted by hand. Finally, the process of photographing them is a deliberately orchestrated
procedure that is part-performance part-documentation. In the end, the process both conceals and reveals the person in the photograph, obscuring notions of gender, race, and class while highlighting an identity that is composed by their relationship to the world of people and objects that surrounds them.
A public opening reception for “Close-Knit” will take place at Galleri Urbane Dallas on Saturday, April 7th, 2018, from 6:30 - 8:30 pm, and a conversation with the artist will take place beforehand at 5:30 pm.
Kristin Skees works in a variety of media, including photography, experimental fibers, digital video and installation. She has shown her work nationally and abroad, and her photographs are found in various private and public collections, including the Cohen
Family Collection, the Candela Collection, the Huntsville Museum of Art and the Mobile Museum of Art. She was awarded a 2016-2017 Professional Artist Fellowship from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. She has a BFA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, a MFA from the University of Arizona, and an MLIS from the University of Alabama. Kristin currently teaches digital photography and video art in the Department of Fine Art and Art History at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. This is her first solo exhibition with Galleri Urbane.