Kurt Simonson (b. 1977 in St Paul, Minnesota) is an artist/educator whose work explores the longings and tensions that surround our ideas of home, community, and identity. Whether connecting the myth and memory of his own upbringing in Minnesota or taking intimate portraits of his closest friends, questions about family, story, and belonging remain at the heart of his curiosity.
Kurt’s work is regularly exhibited throughout the country and internationally, including solo exhibitions at Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon, and the Earl & Virginia Green Gallery in Los Angeles, California, as well as group exhibits at the San Diego Museum of Art, the Center for Fine Art Photography (Fort Collins, Colorado), RayKo Photo Center (San Francisco, California), and the Foto8 Gallery in London, England. His work has been published in the London Sunday Times Magazine, American Photo, Fraction, Lenscratch, Aint-Bad, The Ones We Love, Strant, and Dodho Magazine. In 2012 he received a Curator’s Choice award from CENTER Santa Fe and was shortlisted in Photolucida’s Critical Mass, and in 2015 he was named one of LensCulture’s 50 Emerging Talents.
A Thin Silence
A Thin Silence is a body of work that comes out of my experiences living at the L’Abri communities in England and Sweden. L’Abri is French for “the shelter” and is a place where people of all ages and nationalities come for rest and study in a shared community life with others. It is a “thin place” to use an old Celtic expression – a place where the veil between heaven and earth is almost transparent, a place where pilgrims go to wrestle with God and ask the tough questions that many are otherwise afraid to ask.
There is a story in the Hebrew scriptures about expecting God to be revealed in a dramatic gesture like an earthquake or a fire, but instead finding that God reveals himself in “a low whisper, a thin silence.” This is the lesson of L’Abri. Those who come here are hoping for a grand redemption from personal demons, but instead find God in the beauty of the little things, like chores and shared meals. In a world of individualism and isolationism, many are seeking a sense of belonging. Immersing oneself in the rhythm of a life together can provide a needed contrast from the lonely wanderlust of our rootless contemporary society. Those of us who make the pilgrimage to a place like this discover a new sense of home, a place where we can slow down, stop doing and start being.
His first monograph, Northwoods Journals, was published in 2015 by Flash Powder Projects and has been featured in reviews and year-end best lists from PhotoEye, American Photo, Lenscratch, LensCulture, Flak Photo, and Photo Independent. The book was also exhibited in the 2017 Month of Photography Los Angeles photobook showcase, and at the Benaki Museum in Greece as part of the 2017 Athens Photo Festival. Kurt teaches at Biola University in La Mirada, California, where he is an Associate Professor of Photography in the Art Department. He lives and works in Long Beach, where you can probably find him eating breakfast.
To view more of their Kurt’s work please visit his website.