Sean Smith: Challenging Reality Through Photography

by May 14, 2013 at 2:00 pm 0


Artist Sean Smith. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Eliza French. Follow her on Twitter @elizaenbref; email her at eliza[AT]

Photographer Sean Smith has lived and worked in DC since 1993. “There is no where I would rather be,” he says.

Although not a full time artist, Smith still makes time to pursue his art professionally. He works remotely as an executive for a New York-based software company. This gives him some flexibility in structuring his work schedule so that he has time to fully pursue his fine art photography.

Smith’s work is currently on display in an exhibition with Dafna Steinberg at doris-mae gallery challenge ideas of gender stereotypes and fixed gender identity, Smith says he has addressed these themes throughout his artistic career, for “[a]s long as I’ve struggled with those issues–my whole adult life.”

Smith explores concepts of identity and existence beyond issues of gender and sexuality. “Fundamentally my work is about creating an alternate reality or alternate personal history. By tampering with ‘what is,'” adds Smith, “I document what could be or what could have been.” In order to alter the viewer’s perception of reality, Smith frequently uses digital technology, including Adobe PhotoShop, Instagram, and other applications, to manipulate the images he captures.

After earning his BFA, Smith worked as an assistant for the Italian painter Bruno Ceccobelli. “[H]e taught me many things, most of all that if you want to be a successful artist you need to pursue relentlessly–I have not done that–I am far too playful for that,” Smith says. Smith “dabble[s] in many media,” but considers all of his work to be “photographic and deeply personal at its core.” The artist cites Marcel Duchamp, Joseph Cornell, Karl Schwitters, Cecil Beaton, Pierre et Gilles and many commercial photographers among his diverse artistic influences.

Recently, Smith has delved deeper into portraiture. At the end of 2012, a solo show at Georgetown’s Archer featured a series of photography portraits taken during the course of the year. “Since then,” he has “…worked on some commission portraits, many of which…[he] had hand painted in oil on china to create the finished piece.” Smith will complete a portrait lighting workshop in New York this summer to further develop his skills. He plans to begin a new portrait series after the course, and also pursue more collage work.

Smith’s work is on view through May 19 at doris-mae. Look for more of his photography portraits and collages at galleries around town in the coming months.


Sean Smith’s work. (Luis Gomez Photos)

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