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Kerry Skarbakka

Sylvania North View Gallery

White Noise

November 14 to December 20, 2019
Photograph of a blue and white pickup truck driving on a road. The view is from the side of the truck, asphalt in the foreground, grass and partly cloudy sky in the background. Two dark black plumes of smoke rise from the exhaust pipes on the back of the cab of the truck.

Rollin’ Coal, archival pigment print, 2019

  • Opening reception: Thursday, November 14, 2-5pm
  • Panel Discussion:  Wednesday, November 20, 1-2pm

Attention: This exhibition contains strong visual content. Please be advised that some images feature explicit nudity and references to violence.

The North View Gallery is proud to announce Kerry Skarbakka’s first solo exhibition in Portland, featuring over twenty large scale photographic works, video, and sculpture from the artist’s current project on toxic white masculinity.

For the past twenty years, Skarbakka’s art has met at the intersection of studio arts, performance, and constructed photography. Coming onto the scene in the early 2000s for his seminal body of work on falling and loss of control, The Struggle to Right Oneself, the core of his work explores the nature of existence through performative physical acts and expanded roles of identity.

Initiated after the birth of his son in 2015, Skarbakka turned his attention to the crisis of masculinity and discord emanating directly from certain white male communities. Out of concern, White Noise, taps directly into the artist’s past growing up in an authoritarian Evangelical household on a small farm outside Pulaski, Tennessee (the birthplace of the KKK) and eventually enlisting in the US Army. Blurring the lines between fact and fiction, construction and documentation, White Noise envisions an alternate reality, as Skarbakka, both the artist and subject, characterizes the life and eventual downward spiral of an angry white male.

Vertical color photograph of a small boy, wearing only a diaper and a confederate army style hat, and holding a wooden replica of a civil war musket. He gazes up and to the left. He is standing on brown dirt and is surrounded by shrubs in the background. At the left of the photo are two slender tree trunks.

Bloodline, 2017, stretched vinyl banner, 144″ x 96″

“…I’ve put in a painstaking amount of work into overcoming my conservative upbringing and religious encoding. However, an alternate narrative could have emerged, another reality, another portrait; that of an angry white man, driven by the tenets of hate, misogyny, and bigotry…pushed to the edge.”

Upset at political correctness, immigration, the loss of jobs and a way of life, angry white men have forcibly attempted to reshape the socio-political landscape. By design, this work rides the fine line between interpretation and perspective during a time when nationalism and religious extremism are on the rise on a global scale. White Noise is not an easy conversation, but through this body of work, Skarbakka hopes, “…to provoke, to push the conversation, and to bring all sides to the table.”

White Noise is accompanied by a 68-page exhibition catalog originally produced by the Torrance Art Museum in Torrance, California, where the show premiered in January. With an essay by art historian, Corey Dzenko, PhD and interview conducted by the artist, Paul Shambroom, White Noise (the exhibition catalog) is seen as an essential component of the show rather than a compendium of works.

Panorama view of gallery showing an installation of large scale photographs. On the left is a freestanding wall with a photo of a pick up truck and a wall of smaller framed photos. On the right are two freestanding walls painted black and that have black and white photos of people on them. In the background is a white wall with several photos hanging on it. At the center of the back wall is a lifesize photo of a sign that says "Whiteville." Hanging horizontally on the ceiling at center right is panel with a photo of a car's underside on it.

In conversation with current programming at the North View Gallery, on Wednesday, November 20, Skarbakka participated in a panel to discuss issues of race, perceptions of the other and cultural stereotyping.

About the artist

Kerry Skarbakka was born in Duluth, Minnesota and raised in Tennessee. His performance-based photographic and video work depicting existential anxieties and loss of control through the acts of falling, drowning and fighting have been exhibited internationally. A 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, his work is held in such collections as the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, The North Carolina Museum of Art, The Corcoran Gallery of Art (formerly) and The Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago. Skarbakka received his BA in Studio Art with an emphasis in Sculpture from the University of Washington and his MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago. He lives in Corvallis, Oregon with his wife and son and serves as an Assistant Professor of Photography at Oregon State University.

Work in this show is supported by The Oregon Arts Commission and the Ford Family Foundation, The School of Arts and Communication and the College of Liberal Arts at Oregon State University.

  • Three large scale framed color photographs hang on a white wall. The images on each photo are sequential, and take place in the same setting. The photo on the left depicts a naked man, holding a bible, standing in front of a dresser with a mirror on it. He is pointing at himself in the mirror. The center photo shows the man with his head thrown back and his mirror image is yelling. The photo on the right shows the same man bent with his hands down and his head resting on the bible which is on the dresser.
  • Three identical signs are in the foreground, each depicting the upper body of a man holding a large gun that is pointed at the viewer. In the background are floor to ceiling glass windows with a grey door with a lock on the right,and a concrete column at the center.
  • Vertical color photograph of the underside of a car, wit the front of the vehicle at the top of the image. A front wheel of the car (shown at the top right of the image) is damaged and misaligned. At the bottom corner of the image is a piece of a corrugated roof.
  • Vertical color photograph of a landscape with green and dry grass in the foreground and trees and dark green shrubs in the background. At the center is a green sign with the word "Whiteville" in white letters; the sign is on a metal pole that is planted in the ground.
  • Horizontal black and white photograph of a crowd of people sitting at tables with white paper cups and other objects on the tables. They are looking towards the right side of the photo. A young man in a forman marine uniform sits in the foreground; a young woman in a white shirt stands behind him with her hand raised above her head and cheers. Behind and to her left is another woman who stands and shouts. The background is dark.
  • Several small scale framed photos are hung on a wallpapered wall. The photos faded and appear to be from a personal family album. The wallpaper is multicolored and depicts a pastoral scene with horses and a house on the right and grass and trees and a lake on the right.
  • A freestanding wall in a gallery is in the foreground and floor to ceiling windows and the landscape outside are in the background. The wall has old fashioned, faded wallpaper covering it; the wallpaper depicts an antebellum era pastoral scene of three people in a horse-drawn carriage outside a large home. Installed on the papered wall are many small scale framed photos.
  • A gallery wall installation of three vertical color photographs, one large scale at the center and two smaller same sized ones to the left and right of it. The left photo shows a crying baby on a hospital table with two pairs of adult hands touching it. One pair of hands is wearing green hospital gloves. The center photo is of a naked man standing and looking at the viewer, each of his arms are held straight at his sides and he has a gun in each hand. The right photo is of a man sitting in a boat, with his back towards the viewer; in the background is a lake and sky
  • Installation view of the corner of a gallery, with a white wall on the left and a glass wall looking outside on the right. On the wall are three framed photographic portraits of men, each showing only the head and shoulders, and with the man looking straight at the viewer. In the corner, to the left is a sign on a metal post, the sign depicting a man pointing a large handgun at the viewer.
  • Installation view of a corner a gallery; the walls are black and meet at the center of the image. On the left is a video monitor with an image of a man with a clean shaven head who is shaving his chin with an electric razor. On the left wall is a photo of a black board with the words "Katie May Everett Daniel the only good I ever did" written on it in white block letters.
  • Gallery hours: Monday – Friday 8am-4pm, Saturday 11am-4pm
  • Directions: Follow signs to the bookstore and visitor parking. The gallery is located in the Communications and Technology (CT) building, adjacent to the bookstore on the NE corner of campus.