About the Photographer
American, b. 1961
Justin Kimball's series Where We Find Ourselves depicts families on vacation and people relaxing outdoors in places like campgrounds and national parks. The images all share a sense of escape and coalesce as a loose reflection on American habits of leisure. But Kimball states, "My pictures, while of real people in real places, tell us little about who the subjects actually are or what they are really doing in those places…they are situations taken from their context to make something new.” A series of allusive episodes rather than a documentary effort, what resonates in these gathered glimpses of American life is the feeling of an enduring search for an outdoor idyll, with often imperfect results.
In one photograph, Deep Hold, New Hampshire (2002), a group of young adults stands along a wooded riverbank beside a tumbling waterfall. The sun-dappled forest resembles the Arcadian scenes of 19th century landscape paintings by the Hudson River School, while the loose arrangement of figures on the rocky shore echoes the relaxed nudes in Thomas Eakins' 1885 painting, The Swimming Hole. The moments of leisure that Kimball captures, however, are just as likely to take place in a small fenced-in backyard, a muddy creek, or a sandy beach flanked by cars. What results is a multi-faceted view of the American outdoors that stems from photographers of the human-altered landscape like Robert Adams as much as the recorders of quirky ordinary life, such as Bill Owens.
In his series, Pieces of String (2007-2011) Justin Kimball photographs the objects and scenes left behind in abandoned homes, hotels, and buildings that reveal evidence of an individual’s life. He was often accompanied by his brother Doug, an auctioneer, who scavenges recently vacated homes of the deceased or dispersed of items for potential resale. In exploring the former lives of these individuals, Kimball creates a perceived narrative of the lives of his deceased subjects and the deduced relationships to their objects and surroundings.
Justin Kimball completed his BFA in photography at the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA in photography at the Yale University School of Art and Architecture. He received the Aaron Siskind Individual Photographer Fellowship (2011); John Anson Kittredge Educational Fund, Harvard University (2005); Guggenheim Fellowship, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (2003). His work is held in the collections of the Corcoran Museum of Art, Washington, DC; George Eastman House, Rochester, NY; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; Portland Museum of Art, OR; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA.