Robert Dickes is a photographer and artist in Kentucky. He has shown nationally and internationally including at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center, Ormandy Memorial Art Museum, Marin Museum of Contemporary Art and the International Video Art Festival in Varna, Bulgaria. He is currently a lecturer at the University of Kentucky. His piece Boy With Hand Grenade is currently featured in the Here and Now exhibition.
LAL (Lexington Art League): What choices or influences in your life have led you to pursue a career as an artist?
RD (Robert Dickes): I began photography in high school and knew that is what I wanted to pursue. I worked as a commercial photographer in South Florida before becoming an educator. Then I returned to school to get my MFA and this is when I discovered that I was an artist.
LAL: What inspired you to move away from more traditional photography?
RD: I still do a good bit of traditional photography but my art currently deals with how the digital revolution has changed photography. As part of this digital era the biggest changes that have effected photography are accessibility to images (online), loss of ownership of the image, and how everyone is a photographer (twenty years ago only a small percentage of people took pictures.
LAL: What inspired you to create this piece?
RD: I was researching historical references in photography and painting and thought about how the histories were so closely aligned with a very large time variance, photography's history is less than 10% as long. Within photography the grain of an image has become pixels and most people will never see most of the historical images the way they were originally intended. This represents these changes and the way we view photography now.
LAL: What was the process for creating Boy With Hand Grenade?
RD: I pixelated a classic image, Diane Arbus’ Boy with Hand Grenade, and then select a small area of the original to represent. Each pixel is separately printed onto canvas and then reassemble on another piece of canvas. The pixel swatches continue to deteriorate and curl, as with the grain and prints of the original photographer. The canvas is used to represent that connection to painting's history and more specifically the pointillist period.
LAL: What is the one thing you hope for people to take away from viewing this piece?
RD: I hope that people can see that photography is more than a straight image and that can hold meaning beyond the aesthetic.
LAL: What advice would you give to new artists or photographers?
RD: Make work that you are passionate about and have a personal interest in.
Check out his website to see more of his pieces: www.robdickes.com