From Ernest Hemingway to Robert Capa, many a celebrated artist has cut their teeth in the spare and ever poignant space of the newspaper page. Allison V. Smith comes from that tradition, having worked for journals across the Southwest. Yet her photography has transcended the medium, without sacrificing the simplicity of the journalistic aesthetic. Her images are surreal at times in their lighting and composition, but anchored upon a stark realism that’s ready for a full-bleed spread.
In no place is this dichotomy more apparent than in her Marfa photos. Her intimacy with the subject matter is instantly apparent, as something as quotidian as an illuminated dollar store sign becomes in a fading twilight nothing short of Hopper-esque. The simplicity of a water fountain against an oxblood wall, the infinity of a road that stretches out to nowhere, a moribund muscle car on rust-fixed wheels—through her lens, they take on something profound, and something deeply Texan; the visual poetry of an artist who doesn’t just know the landscape, but has lived in it, and knows its taste.
If you’d like to see Allison’s work in person, she has pieces on permanent display at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Dallas Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. For the online version, you can also see her portfolio at www.allisonvsmith.com.