Kyle Blevins did not learn how to become a professional photographer at Simpson College. But he learned about art, and he found an advisor who believed in him and that made all the difference.
Blevins, ’89, takes provocative photographs that tackle difficult subjects: sex, death, and “those parts of life that are primal and true and instictual and innate.” His subjects have ranged from portraits of people riding the El train in Chicago to haunting photographs of dead birds (more on that later).
It was theatre, not photography, that lured him to Simpson from Creston, Iowa. But he quickly switched his major to fine arts, eventually earning a degree in arts administration.
“I felt more confident in fine art, and it was a little more solitary,” he says. “It allowed me to really focus my attention without distractions.”
He didn’t choose photography as his medium until he left Simpson, “but I felt like I had huge advantages” because of his art background.
He also credits Janet Heinicke, the former art department chair and his advisor.
“She was someone to never give up on her students, even if they may have given up on themselves,” he says. “I’ve been in art programs in three different schools. There aren’t many people like her.”
Blevins takes risks in his work. Consider, for example, his collection of photographs of dead birds, some of which were included in a Simpson exhibit.
“The birds were very much a metaphor for me,” he says. “I was living in Las Vegas, and I kept seeing dead birds everywhere. They were treated like litter on the ground. I felt like I needed to honor them in some way. I couldn’t just let them lay on the ground as trash. It was about honoring them as creatures.”
More of Blevins’ work can be seen at www.kyleblevins.com.