Photographer Kip Dawkins (right) explains his exhibition "Vacant," on display at Quirk Gallery through April 7. (Photo by Lindsay Schneider)
For over 25 years, Kip Dawkins has worked as a commercial photographer, controlling his scenes while shooting luxury interiors and products. In Quirk Gallery’s first photography exhibit, he displays the power of unadorned surroundings through one of his personal projects, "Vacant."
Visitors take in the photos of the "Vacant" exhibition, comprised of 12 images. (Photo by Lindsay Schneider)
“Ever since I was a kid, I would find the weirdest stuff, and the weirdest people would always come to me,” Dawkins says. “I was always intrigued by all that stuff.” The exhibition focuses on abandoned places and negative spaces that Dawkins discovered during his travels across the United States. There are 12 featured photos, but Dawkins’ favorite was captured in South Carolina: a photo of bones he spied while driving by.
“I always take the back roads if I can, and I just yelled at my wife, ‘Stop, stop, stop!’ ” Dawkins says about capturing the South Carolina photo. Others include similarly eerie scenes: a wall of toilets on the U.S.-Mexican border; a 1950s-era abandoned hotel in Georgia; a tiny, secluded church framed by the Colorado mountain skyline.
Dawkins, who says he's always been drawn to "the weirdest stuff," explains why abandoned spaces catch his eye. (Photo by Lindsay Schneider)
Of his focus on negative space, Dawkins says that in "Vacant," he concentrated on the areas around the objects he was photographing, rather than the objects themselves. “I do so much high-end work that has to be perfect. So I took that and turned it into how I was processing things.”
After years of professional picture taking, Dawkins says a new, more compact camera sparked his passion for his craft once again. “Photography wasn’t fun for me anymore. I worked so much that it just became a job,” Dawkins said. “... and then I bought this camera that was amazing. It was super-sharp and all very compact. I started looking again, seeing again.”
Dawkins plans to focus his next project on the desert, noting that many of his photos have included elements of nature.
"Vacant" opened with a reception on Feb. 23 and will run through April 9, with First Fridays showings on March 3 and April 7. The exhibit is located at Quirk Gallery, 207 W. Broad St.