KU News Release

November 8, 2012
Contact: Mike Krings, KU News Service, 785-864-8860

'Gonzo visionary' photographer Smith to speak on motivations, art Nov. 15

Gary Mark Smith

More Information

LAWRENCE — Internationally renowned street photographer and University of Kansas alumnus Gary Mark Smith will speak next week about his career shooting photos of the poetry of everyday life in nearly 70 countries.

He will present “Gary Mark Smith, Gonzo Visionary: The Methodology of a Most Unusual Fine Art Career” at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, at the Oread Hotel.

The event, presented by KU Libraries, will begin with a reception with Smith and members of the Vosper Society for friends of the KU Libraries at 5 p.m. in the All Seasons Den. Smith’s presentation will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in The Hancock Ballroom. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Smith began his photography career in the late 1970s as a KU student. He began shooting photos of students and others at the Crossing, which was located at the site of the Oread. Since then his career has taken him to 69 countries, where he has shot photos of people going about their everyday lives as well as wars, revolutions, demonstrations and volcanic eruptions. At the presentation he will discuss his motivations to challenge the boundaries of street photography, his methodology and how his life experiences have influenced his style.

The School at the Art Institute of Chicago recently selected 10 of Smith’s photos and 10 by his collaborator, KU student Sarah Stern, for its permanent collection. In 2011, Smith and Stern spent three weeks photographing life in Rocinha, one of the largest favelas, or slums, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The photos were featured with essays in the acclaimed book “Favela da Rocinha, Brazil.” Smith was nominated for a William Randolph Hearst Award in 1983, donated work for the George Eastman House 2011 and 2012 History of Photography auctions in New York, and earned a master’s degree at Purdue University through a teaching fellowship.

In 2011 Smith donated thousands of photographs, writings and personal effects to the Kansas Collection at KU’s Kenneth Spencer Research Library. He recently expanded his donation, adding about 2,500 photos, drawings, negatives and files to the collection. Despite the career awards and academic achievements, Smith has no intentions of slowing down. Before the end of the year he plans to travel to Vietnam and Cambodia to photograph street vendors and will return to Brazil for the World Cup in 2014 and Olympics in 2016.

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