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Kirk Crippens

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Lives in
San Francisco, CA

Works in
San Francisco Bay Area California


University of Texas, 1989
Stanford University, Continuing Education, 2011

Representing galleries

USA photography, Foreclosure, The Dealership Wreck photography photography




  • 2011 Stanford University Continuing Education, Art 44, Palo Alto, CA
  • 1994-1995 University of Texas, Photography, Arlington, TX
  • 1989-1992 University of Texas, Photography, Austin, TX


  • 2011 Photolucida, Critical Mass Top 50
  • 2011 Lishui International Photo Festival, Guest Artist, Lishui, China
  • 2011 Peter Hay Halpert Fine Art, Inclusion in Identities Now: Contemporary Portrait Photography
  • 2011 25th Annual Emeryville Art Exhibition, Yellow Ribbon
  • 2011 ArtSlant, Juried Showcase Winner, Nominated for ArtSlant Prize 2011
  • 2010 Fleishhacker Foundation, Nominated: Eureka Fellowship Program 2011-2013
  • 2010 Photolucida, Critical Mass Top 50
  • 2010 Blue Earth, Blue Earth Prize for Best Project Photography
  • 2010 24th Annual Emeryville Art Exhibition, Yellow Ribbon
  • 2010 Blurb, Honorable Mention, Photography Book Now, Portfolio Category
  • 2010 ArtSlant, Juried Showcase Winner
  • 1996 Columbia Scholastic Press Association, Collegiate Gold Circle Award
  • 1988-1990 Columbia Scholastic Press Association, Gold Circle Award
  • 1988-1989 University Interscholastic League, Tops in Texas

Professional Experience

  • 2011 Participant, Photolucida Portfolio Reviews, Portland, OR
  • 2010 Participant, PhotoAlliance Our World Portfolio Reviews, San Francisco, CA
  • 2008 Participant, Missouri Photo Workshop, St. James, MO
  • 2001 Advanced Photography Instructor, Gloria Shields Publication Workshop, Dallas, Texas
  • 1994 Internship, Patuxent Publishing Company, Columbia, MD
  • 1993 Extended Internship, The Flint Journal, Flint, MI
  • 1991 Internship, The Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX
  • 1989-1992 Advanced and Intermediate Photography Instructor, Gloria Shields Publication Workshop, Dallas, Texas
  • 1990 Photo Editor, The Daily Texan, Austin, TX
  • 1989-1991 Photographer, The Daily Texan, Austin, TX

Solo Exhibition Record

  • 2011 Heart Gallery, Dreams and Phrophesies, Curator: Marisa McCarthy
  • 2011 Reynolds Gallery, University of the Pacific, Foreclosure, USA: Stockton, Curator: Jennifer Little, Stockton, CA
  • 2010 Jackson Street Gallery, University High School, Foreclosure, USA, Curator: Gale Jesi, San Francisco, CA
  • 2010 SFMOMA Artists Gallery, Foreclosure, USA: The Great Recession, Curator: Renée de Cossio, San Francisco, CA
  • 2010 RayKo Photo Center, Foreclosure, USA, Curator: Ann Jastrab, San Francisco, CA
  • 2009 Fotovision, Treasure Island, Solo Exhibition, Curators: Ken & Melanie Light, Berkeley, CA

Select Group Exhibition Record

  • 2011 (Nov) Lishui Photo Festival, Lishui, China
  • 2011 Lunch Box Gallery, America Like It Or Not, Three Artist Exhibition, Miami, FL
  • 2011 SFMOMA Artists Gallery, Two Artist Exhibition with Heather Wilcoxon, Painter, San Francisco, CA
  • 2011 a.Muse Gallery, ReGeneration, Paired with Janet Delaney, Curators: Lori Shantzis and Luis Delgado, San Francisco, CA
  • 2011 Silver Eye Center for Photography, Foreclosure, USA, Pittsburgh, PA
  • 2011 RayKo Photo Center, Across the Divide: Critical Mass 2010, San Francisco, CA
  • 2011 Wall Space Gallery, Life Support Japan, Santa Barbara, CA and Seattle, WA
  • 2011 New Space Center for Photography, Across the Divide: Critical Mass 2010, Portland, OR
  • 2011 Modernbook Gallery, 16@49, San Francisco, CA
  • 2011 Photo Center NW, Across the Divide: Critical Mass 2010, Curated by Todd Hido, Seattle, WA
  • 2011 Tangent Gallery, Photography Today. Now. In This Moment., Sacramento, CA
  • 2010 ArtSlant, Aqua Art Miami, Miami, FL
  • 2010 Kristen Buckingham Gallery, Inaugural Exhibition, Curator: Marisa McCarthy, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2010 The Center for Fine Art Photography, The New Normal, Juror: Edward Robinson of LACMA, Ft. Collins, CA
  • 2010 Heart, Photo Obscura, Curator: Marisa McCarthy, San Francisco, CA
  • 2010 Branch Gallery, Oakland, CA
  • 2010 Emeryville Art Exhibition, Jurors: Steve Pon of SFMOMA & Mina Dresden of Mina Dresden Gallery, Emeryville, CA
  • 2010 RayKo Photo Center, (Por)trait Revealed, Curator: Ann Jastrab, San Francisco, CA
  • 2010 SFMOMA Artists Gallery, Wonderous Strange: A 21st Century Cabinet of Curiosities, Curators: Maria Medua & Renée de Cossio, San Francisco, CA
  • 2010 SFMOMA Artists Gallery, SF Art Fair Exhibition, San Francisco, CA, Curator: Maria Medua
  • 2010 Berkeley Art Center, Collect, Curator: Suzanne Tan, Berkeley, CA
  • 2009 SFMOMA Artists Gallery, New World Order, Two Artist Exhibition, Curator: Renée de Cossio, San Francisco, CA
  • 2009 Emeryville Art Exhibition, Jurors: Kimberly Johnasson, Johansson Projects & Suzanne Tan of BAC, Emeryville, CA
  • 2009 Brickbottom, Mythological Renderings, Juror: George Shackelford, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Somerville, MA
  • 2009 Gallery Route One, 24th Annual, Juror: Jeremy Morgan of SFAI, Point Reyes, CA
  • 2008 Berkeley Art Center, Artifacts, Three Artist Exhibition, Curator: Jill Berk Jiminez, Berkeley, CA


Judgment Day

Family Radio owner Harold Camping purchased over 5,500 billboards across the world proclaiming May 21st, 2011 to be judgment day. In the days leading up to May 21st, national media in the United States aired interviews with Camping and his followers. Some of Camping's followers stated that they had spent every last penny traveling and proclaiming May 21st as Judgment Day. They didn't think it mattered, the world was going to end.

I wondered why Camping would endanger his followers and provide such fodder for ridicule by claiming to know the day and hour of judgment day. The bible clearly states, "of that day and hour no one knows."

I photographed from midnight to midnight on May 21st, envisioning a world where the rapture had taken place and society was about to tip toward an apocalyptic end. I set out with no destination in mind except one, I visited Family Radio headquarters along the way.

San Quentin: Hidden Population

In January 2010, after 2 1/2 years of effort, I was granted permission to enter San Quentin prison with my cameras. With the Warden and PR Officer accompanying me I was allowed 45 minutes with the inmates. In August I was offered a second shoot, this time I had an hour and fifteen minutes.

In California, as with many states, our prisons are vastly overcrowded communities on the periphery of society - a hidden population. I had the option of photographing the prisoner’s faces but I chose to hide their faces just as their community is largely hidden from societies' gaze.

The US Supreme Court ruled on May 23, 2011 that California's overcrowded prisons are unconstitutional - the conditions constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

The Dealership Wreck

I never noticed the monolithic deserted auto dealerships alongside the freeway until recently, when I began to notice empty dealerships everywhere I traveled. I researched the phenomenon and discovered that since 2009, over 2,300 auto dealerships in America were shuttered. The closings, which happened largely as a result of the US government’s auto industry bailout and restructuring, caused thousands of industry workers to lose their jobs and put 70 million square feet of commercial real estate on the market.

During recent visits to auto malls in California, Oregon, and Texas, I explored many of these abandoned structures. I’ve witnessed a foundation being poured for a brand new auto dealership directly across the street from two closed dealerships. I’ve observed that some of the buildings are scheduled for demolition; some are being repurposed; and a few are reopening as new dealerships. At a time when GM is emerging from a structured bankruptcy and things are looking up for auto manufacturers, I hope this series captures a glimpse of the fragile and changing infrastructure of this iconic American industry. The Dealership Wreck continues my work on The Great Recession that began with my 2009 series Foreclosure, USA.

Foreclosure, USA

In the last two years, the financial distress and misery induced by widespread foreclosures in the United States have become an urgent national concern. At the time of writing, there is much public discourse on how to solve a problem that has decimated communities, threatens the entire financial system and seems to dis-credit the American dream. The smart money is still unsure whether and when the US can recover sustainable economic growth; lots of foreclosure, and not much closure. This is a story that deserves to be told and understood in its many aspects.

The concept of home summons warm images of family, friends and success. Realtors sell only houses, yet the conflation of house and home is a standard part of good salesmanship. I found it fascinating that by the end of 2008, brokers, bankers and media alluded to the millions of “homes” for sale- abandoned, even lonely homes eagerly awaiting new owners. A home is surely a richer, more personal entity than a house, and maybe it would be less stressful for it to become just a house again.

With so many willing subjects, I thought it would be of interest to photograph the “after-home.” The after-home is a provisional object. It is found empty and often over-empty: people may have removed semi-permanent fixtures such as faucets, balusters and doors. I approached Kirk Crippens, whose work I have enjoyed and admired for some time and under his acute eye, the project expanded to include images of mortgage banks, roads, auction sales and other associated elements.

We chose to focus on the town of Stockton in the Central Valley of California. It is a town of about three hundred thousand people, within commuting distance of Sacramento and San Francisco. It has an European history dating back to 1849 and a Mediterranean climate. It is racially mosaic. It has an enviable transport infrastructure by land, sea and air. It is surrounded by farmland that has often served Hollywood as a depiction of the grassy mid-Western plains and contributed greatly to Stockton’s historical prosperity. In 1999 and in 2004, Stockton received an All America City award from the National Civic League. In 2002, it was named Best Tree City by Sunset magazine. It enjoyed a spectacular housing boom from 2000 to 2006. Sadly, it has become one of the foreclosure capitals of the country. In the first quarter of 2009, one in every twenty-seven housing units in the area received a foreclosure notice against a national rate of about one in one hundred and fifty-nine. The unemployment rate is now over sixteen percent. Stockton’s renewal may depend on renewable energy: it has ethanol and bio-diesel plants, wind and solar power potential, and has declared a strong interest in developing green sustainable industry. Stockton seems to manifest America in its unreserved sense of possibility and its commitment to be open for business.

I first came to Stockton cynical about people who desired the stability of American home life so much that they confused it with a share of America’s housing stock and overextended themselves to buy it. But walking through the quiet, spotless neighborhoods outside made me wistful as they evoked schematically illustrated children’s books - apple-pie ordered houses, unblemished blue sky and lime green gardens- and one could feel the pitch…In the early morning light, the after-homes behind the compound wall seemed to me like closely packed cows poking their heads up over a farm fence. “Safe as houses,” the English like to say. Maybe they mean to say: “stable as homes.” But these houses looked vulnerable, as if seeking help from willing new American dreamers. They stood embarrassed amongst still financially functional homes. I tried to picture fresh faces and new sounds within the empty rooms and hallways, but the after-homes resisted.

Everyone knows how to turn a house into a home but how does an abandoned home unwind back into a house? Kirk’s photographs capture a slice of that in-between world and provide a glimpse of the origin and promise of the homes that were. This collection is not a social commentary on Stockton, but the scale of its foreclosure problem affords a rich diversity of pictures of the after-home and of the adjoining farm landscape that had to make way to make possible the manufactured landscape. As often happens in art, the images have cast off the question and become beautiful objects in their own right.

Recent Exhibits

Kirk Crippens participated in these exhibits:

Oct, 2014 28th Annual Emeryville Art Exhibition
Heritage Square
Sep, 2014 The Point
Rayko Photo Center
Aug, 2014 Open Show SF - Special Event
SFMOMA Artists Gallery
Jul, 2014 How the Light Gets In: Bay Area Photo
SFMOMA Artists Gallery
Jan, 2014 Reconnaissance
Headlands Center for the Arts
Nov, 2013 Crafted at RayKo
Rayko Photo Center
Click here to see all exhibits for Kirk Crippens

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