My art cannot exist without exploration. Camera in hand, I find my inspiration simply by walking. I had an impressionable experience as a child, walking by myself in the downtown streets of a small town. I was running an important errand for my grandmother, and simultaneously experiencing the world at my own pace, for the very first time. At this moment, I learned to appreciate just how intricate and detailed our urban communities are: old buildings, rustic signage, historical landmarks…they all represent a larger narrative of culture. The cities we build are part of who we are as a community. The joy to go outside and discover the hidden secrets of any place has both challenged and inspired me to notice everything, to be completely and acutely aware of my surroundings. In my work, I combine many photographic images, envisioning the spatial, cultural, and historical connections each of these individual pictures imply. I create scenes that both combine and juxtapose the elements of urban landscapes into meaningful, nostalgic narratives. The process of photomontage allows me to combine the real with the imaginary: layering bits of photographs on top of one another, I am able to create imagined landscapes. These composite scenes are my attempt to recreate the dynamic, multi-layered world I experience during my explorations.
Beth Kerschen is a multi-disciplinary artist using photomontage to create cityscapes that reflect on community, culture, and urban life. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Colorado College in Colorado Springs, as one of the first students to exhibit digitally created art. Beth moved to Boston, MA to work for Polaroid then worked for ten years as a graphic designer with several creative firms in Boston, eventually moving to Portland, Oregon in 2008. Since that time, Kerschen has committed her life to capturing vast urban landscapes into one tangible image. She uses her photography, design, and illustration skills to turn urban landscapes into fantastical images filled with meaning and nostalgia. Her art explores and reflects on connections held by the landmarks, buildings, signage, graffiti, people, and events that are reflected in urban life and urban culture. She was awarded a Professional Development Grant from RACC (‘15) and a public art installation commission at the Portland International Airport (‘16). Her work has been held in a number of corporate and city collections, including two terms in the Mayor of Portland’s office. She has done a number of installation pieces for numerous residential buildings bolstering local identity. Clients include JupiterNEXT Hotel, the City of The Dalles, Heathman Hotel, Downtown Oregon City Assoc., Port of Portland, IFC (Portlandia t.v. series), REACH Community Development, Weird Portland United, and Facebook.
Contact at [email protected]
Here is an interview produced by Kathryn Boyd-Batstone and Tommy Pittenger. The focus is on Kerschen’s path to becoming an artist. It also highlights a part of her printmaking process.