Philippi Seascapes-Stillness in Motion

 The ocean is where I reach back through time and find my present self.

 My Seascapes live in contradiction. They are images of the outer world, but they could easily be visualizations of innermost thoughts. They are portraits that can buoy and bathe, erode and destroy. They are at once stirring and restful. Their silence thunders.

 This work is not about capturing an instant. Rather, through long exposures I allow many instants to accrue, so that each photograph creates a moment consisting of many movements through the compression of time.

 By literally wading into my subject, I stand on the edge of what is safe and engage it intimately. More than observing the sea, I feel it through my lens. These are images of that communion.

 I use blurring (shallow depth of field, long exposure) not so much to obscure as to optically paint, some are barely recognizable as waves. Sometimes a horizon is visible. Sometimes sand. Occasionally a glowering sky is so low it is indistinguishable from the sea. But always, always the waves.

 This very indistinctness defies definition and leaves the work open to broad interpretation. Foam, ripples, a cresting wave – forms emerge and become an emotive part of the photograph’s structure.

 My work is an invitation to rest. For in addition to containing a build-up of instants, each image offers an escape from the clutter of daily life, so clamorous with visual detail. There are no details here. I can lose myself in these waves.


Karen Philippi was born in Wallingford, Connecticut 1973.

She lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island.

After earning her BFA in photography and sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1997, she embarked on her career as a professional photographer, working both in studio and on location to create images of art and architecture, people and products. As assistant to photographer Paul Clancy she learned the language of lenses and vintage glass. They traveled widely for an array of clients, including Audi, Blue Cross, Statoil, and Polaroid. It is no accident that many of her collaborative projects showcase artists, for an important part of her commercial career is devoted to bringing out the best of every artist’s work. Philippi is represented by Erdreich White Fine Art (Boston) and by Sargent Gallery (Martha’s Vineyard), which contributes a portion of its sales to environmental causes.