Caroline Tompkins


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Images play different roles in and of themselves as windows and even - dare I say - as individuals. If a photo can be individual - I think it can. The awareness of that window is important to each person who's looking. Caroline Tompkins and I chat at length about the hope that people might take that time with photography. "Here's a thing you need to see," she tells me, explaining the how of her photographs. Her images and language are interesting to interpret, as is she. The word demure may seem accurate at first but the truth is Tompkins has, well - balls. There's nerve in her, and within her reserve is an inquisitive and engaged fight. Not a fight of fists or words but one of reflective intellect and tenderness.

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© Caroline Tompkins

Tompkins has a different sensibility; it's probably something about Ohio where she's from, and a certain sort of projected quietness in her tone and her hands. Her photographs are beautiful in a noncritical way; they are absurd and situational. It would be easy for viewers to find themselves laughing with a Tompkins image. There is something intrinsically photographic happening in Tompkins imagery. It rouses a charming engagement of reflective and coy peculiarity. It's all very quaint at the surface; it's after those first few moments when you realize something deeper is engaging the imagery and the photos are not just pretty things, idealized places, and pretty people. 

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© Caroline Tompkins

There's time to reveal secrets and invent a good amount of trickery when traveling around with a camera. Tompkins' imagery has a lot to unmask and explore; her photographs are of getting away or moving on, from one place to another. They are wide and precious in scope but pressed with observation and hugely aesthetic. It isn't outwardly obvious, it is wonderfully seductive in its matter of factness. It's like breathing - she tells me she's always had a camera in her hands. Eight years old and taking pictures, she didn't so much have a lighting bolt moment that drew her to photography as much as she just always had this extra appendage. Tompkins knows the camera the way she knows herself.     

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© Caroline Tompkins

She, Tompkins, is a hard working lady. She is hugely respectful and strikes me as the type to go into the wilderness and leave only footprints. I don't mean to romanticize her; I mean to point out something hugely loving and human about the person who presses the eye to her camera. She reflects in her images as they speak back about her. The work doesn't get lost on Tompkins; the world she interacts with is important but there isn't a sense that she is her own subject. Caroline is far more interested in the everything and all around. Pieces and parts she photographs like a collector of unexpected bric-a-brac's of all kinds of wonderful odds and ends. There's a rhythm that reads like a hymn in her warm compositions. Elusive beyond what they literally are, the only thing they ask is a few more moments for your viewing pleasure.

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© Caroline Tompkins

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© Caroline Tompkins

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© Caroline Tompkins

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© Caroline Tompkins

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© Caroline Tompkins

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