Don Kirby literally grew up turning the surface of the earth upside down—on his parent’s sharecropper farms in Northwestern Missouri. Failing in that enterprise, his family moved to other work as he studied math and physics in college with a beginning interest in photography. Emerging with advanced math and science degrees, he moved to the West Coast and began a career in aerospace. Escaping frequently from the city to maintain sanity, he became a backpacker, mountain climber, and river runner, always carrying a slide camera to document his and his friend’s activities. A decade and a half later, for reasons still not clear, B/W film replaced slides, subject matter changed, a darkroom was built, and serious study of expressive photography began, utilizing workshops by Bruce Barnbaum, John Sexton, Ansel Adams, and ultimately teaching with Bruce, Jay Dusard, Stu Levy, and Huntington Witherill. Aerospace was abandoned a few years later.
Don’s photography in the ensuing years includes extensive exploration of the western US landscape, urban architecture, Ancestral Pueblos, historic settlements, classic and non-classic autos, graffiti and night writing a wide-ranging and continually expanding study. Major projects include over 20 years (1989 to the present and continuing) of periodic work on the Ancestral Pueblos of the Colorado Plateau, 15 years (1991-2006) in the Wheatcountry of the Northwestern US, and 5 years in the National Grasslands and other grasslands in the US. Nazraeli Press published Wheatcountry in 2001, You’re not really initiated until your eyes are redder than your lips in 2002, Grasslands in 2009, and The Anasazi Project in 2012.
Don’s photographs have been exhibited in more than fifty individual and group exhibits. Additionally, his photographs are included in the collections of the George Eastman House, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Joy of Giving Something,NY, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Portland Art Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, the New Mexico History Museum, the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Art, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, the Hallie Ford Museum of Art and private collections.
Don met his wife Joan Gentry in 1992 and eleven years later Joan, a New Mexico gal, led them home to Santa Fe. They run a photography workshop program and travel the country in a pop-top camper in pursuit of their photographic interests.