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Corvallis Arts Walk Spotlight: Kerry Skarbakka

Corvallis Arts Walk Spotlight: Kerry Skarbakka

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"On the Brink," an exhibit by Kerry Skarbakka, an assistant professor of photography at Oregon State University, is on view at the Fairbanks Gallery at OSU and is featured as part of today's Corvallis Arts Walk. Here's more information about Skarbakka and his work. 

Hometown: “I was born in Duluth, Minnesota but was raised on a small farm outside Pulaski, Tennessee. I’ve moved so many times since, it’s hard to identify with any particular town. The Pacific Northwest has always felt like home to me.”

Media: “I work primarily at the intersection of performance-based practices and constructed photography, including video. However, I began painting at an early age and my undergraduate degree focused on sculpture. I feel comfortable communicating across a multimedia platform and use whatever medium is necessary to the project.”

About the work displayed: "'On The Brink’ is a self-curated exhibition bringing into focus the last 15 years of my career. Organized, under the theme of the title, the exhibition is a combination of media including large scale photographs, video and sculpture. Among other conceptual underpinnings, the show investigates loss of control, environmental concern, and existential anxiety.”

Inspiration: “Inspiration is difficult to define, especially in my practice. If you can call anxiety, confusion and existential uncertainty paired with the loss of control as inspiration, I guess that’s how I would describe it.”

Impact on viewer: “I make work about the times in which we live. I tend to make work that is big and in your face. It could be described as fairly masculine and sometimes loud. However, I’ve tried to create meaningful statements that could be understood on a universal level. These messages empathize with the pitfalls of the human condition. On a physical level, the work has presence and the viewer has to deal with the one-to-one relationship between photograph/object and themselves. I guess I’ve never worried so much if people would 'like' my art work, as much as I’d like the work to have an emotional impact. I want them to feel like they’ve experienced something regardless of judgment.

"The work in this show has examples of pieces made following the 9-11 attacks right up until this election. Looking back at the past 15 years in terms of economics, politics, the environment and social policy, there has been much to test the resolve of the individual citizen.

"Right now, looking forward, I think the work has taken on new meaning following Nov. 8. And I’m still trying to figure that out. I believe aspects of the newest work have taken a strange and ironic position, while the despair and uncertainty that was the storyline of the early work have been amplified. To be honest, I’m not sure what kind of impact I want it to have at this point.

"But I do know, there are a lot of people feeling very isolated and scared. There is so much need to raise our voices, as our civil liberties, environment and freedoms are being threatened like never before. Now is a time of resistance and I’ve got some things to say.”

Previous exhibits: “My work has been shown in over 100 solo and group exhibitions in national and international venues. Highlights include internationally recognized venues such as the Haifa Museum of Art in Haifa, Israel, where I have a current exhibition; the Vivacom Art Hall, Sofia, Bulgaria (2013) Museo de la Cuidad, Cuernava Morelos, Mexico (2013) Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain, Nice (2012), Fargfabriken Norr, Sweden (2008), and the Alhen Museum of Art, Germany (2010). This list includes a wonderful show curated by the prisoners at the Centre Pénitentiaire Sud Francilien, through the Paris Musées et la Maison de Victor Hugo that came down this past spring.

Nationally, my work has been exhibited important venues such as the North Carolina Museum of Art (2015), The Torrance Art Museum, Los Angeles (2014) the George Eastman Museum, Rochester (2011), The Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, Virginia (2008); the Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2008), the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. (2008) and The Aperture Foundation, New York City (2006). My first major solo exhibition happened in December 2002 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.”

What should people know: “I am the model for all my artwork. Please go to for more info.”


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