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Meet Chandler Smith

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chandler Smith.

Chandler, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My story, as far as my art practice is concerned, started around the time I was in high school. I actually started out primarily as a musician, I played in a number of bands on and off as well as some solo work when I was in high school. I made numerous original recordings between high school through the first couple years of college, however, my interest in photography and visual art didn’t really begin until around the age of 16. Due to a health complication, I was mostly unable to play music anymore having lost most of the muscle in my body and therefore my hands as well. I suppose that photography was the most logical and easiest alternative for me at that point. I already owned a cheap, plastic film camera, a Holga, and had no formal training in the arts at that time. During the months of my health decline, I was also mostly unable to walk, so in order to satisfy my need to create, my friends would drive me around and I would take pictures around town.

A few years later, I was enrolled at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee studying Audio Design & Production. I had mostly abandoned photography by this time. I left Belmont University after a couple years and transferred to Columbia College Chicago. I don’t remember what prompted me to add photography as a minor, but after becoming more interested and involved in my photography studies, I eventually added it as a double major. Shortly after that, my work started to receive some recognition and I was invited by a local artist/curator to participate in a group exhibition with three or four other artists that I knew and admired their work. I’ve been in at least two exhibitions a year since then, and I’ve been in shows back-to-back every month from November 2017 through May 2018. That includes my first solo show, which was at the residence of the President of Columbia College Chicago for three months, as well as my first installation piece in March of this year. This mostly brings us up to the present. My artistic practice now is mostly conceptually based and I use whatever means necessary to get my ideas across. I think it is counterproductive to limit oneself to using one particular medium because that usually involves having to embrace all the traditionalist preconceptions and arbitrary limitations of the medium. This has led my work to blur the boundaries between photography, sculpture, painting, and installation art as well as explore the intersections of these mediums.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I prefer to remove my personal experiences from my work as much as possible in order to make my work more universal and not only cater to people who may have been through similar things as I have, but rather focus on a new experiential or perceptual experience that all people share. However, there are obviously subconscious decisions based on past experiences that influence my work. But yes, there have been and will continue to be ups, downs, and struggles both major and minor. I think this is a necessity for growth both as a person as well as creatively. I’ve had so much support from my family, friends, and past instructors/mentors that have helped me get to where I am today, and am very thankful for that, so I wouldn’t take back any obstacle no matter how negative it may have been. Currently, my main obstacle is trying to find time and balance between my day job and really focusing on creating new work.

We’d love to learn more about your work and the focus of your art.
My work pushes the boundaries of what is considered photography and explores the intersections that it shares with sculpture, video, painting, etc. I use photographs, videos, etc. not as end pieces, but rather as tools to explore ideas and concepts. For example, traditionally in photography, the end piece is an image of something a person can see with their eyes, printed using either digital or chemical processes on a rectangular piece of paper. Why is that all that photography can be? Why does it have to be representational? Why does it strictly have to use a camera or light sensitive materials? Why does it have to be contained within a rectangle? These are some of the questions that I think about while I work on new projects… I like to deal with things the eye cannot see without the artist’s intervention. I use what otherwise would be finished pieces and layer them over and over again, either physically or through my process. For example, I will project a video I made into a corner, photograph it numerous times, composite some of the photographs into a single image, print it, and create a non-rectangular, non-two-dimensional piece that is not able to be easily classified as a photograph, sculpture, and may appear to reference painting as well. Sometimes, I will even repeat this entire process until I reach my goal. That, in a somewhat of a nutshell, is primarily what my current work deals with as well as what sets my work apart from a majority of other artists, especially those based in photography. However, there seems to be a movement in photography now in which a lot of artists independently have started to reevaluate the medium, and I consider myself part of that group of artists, although not yet of the same caliber. But even comparing these artist’s work is difficult (and unnecessary for the sake of this point) because visually or conceptually they can all be very different.

What are your plans for the future? What are you looking forward to or planning for – any big changes?
As far as short-term plans are concerned, I’ve been applying to a lot of artist residencies and exhibitions/calls for work. A couple of my goals this year are to be accepted for at least one residency and continue to be featured in more exhibitions and gain more exposure in Chicago. I have a couple of new projects in the works that I hope to complete or make significant progress within the next couple of months. I am also trying to get a new day job doing really anything in the art field as well. Before next year, I will be applying for grad school which will likely take me either to New York or Los Angeles. But that depends on a lot of factors, so I’m not sure where I will physically be this time next year.


  • Approximation #01, 40″x50″, Archival Pigment Print mounted to Masonite, Edition 01/05 +1AP. 2017. $1,200
  • Approximation #02, 40″x50″, Archival Pigment Print mounted to Masonite, Edition 01/05 +1AP. 2017. $1,200
  • Approximation #03, 40″x50″, Archival Pigment Print mounted to Masonite, Edition 02/05 +1AP. 2017. $1,200
  • Approximated Figure #01, approx. 20″x30″, Archival Pigment Print face-mounted to 1/4″ Laser Cut Acrylic on Sintra, Edition 01/03 + 1AP, 2017. $1,200
  • Approximated Figure #03, approx. 20″x30″, Archival Pigment Print face-mounted to 1/4″ Laser Cut Acrylic on Sintra, Edition 01/03 + 1AP, 2017. $1,200

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