David Michael Kennedy - The Alchemist of El Rito

. M A S T E R . A T .T H E . F I N E . A R T . O F . P H O T O G R A P H Y

Photos and Text by C. Whitney-Ward

David Michael Kennedy lives and works in El Rito, New Mexico, a blip on the map that is off the beaten path and a sanctuary for a bevy of remarkable artists. He invited me to his home/studio and  introduced me to two other amazing artists that I will be featuring in Chasing this coming week.

DMK's platinum/palladium prints are hauntingly beautiful, capturing the essence of his subject(s), everything from a weather-beaten car, the ethereal movements of a Native American dancer, the true grit of Bob Dylan - to the quiet eloquence of Isaac Stern. And, he does it all on film with finesse and grace and then creates magic in his darkroom.

Photos courtesy DMK website

In the 70's and 80's  David worked in advertising in New York, photographing a portfolio of celebrities - Bruce Springsteen, Yo Yo Ma, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Cliff, Loren Maazell  - just to drop a few names. Then in 1987 he decided to follow his dream and  settle in Northern New Mexico where he's firmly ensconced - save for a two year photographic journey  across America in an Airstream trailer. His images From the Road are raw and real, capturing a rapidly vanishing way of life. 

Pentecostal Minister Sister Reiddie Harper's larger-than-life portrait makes a quiet statement  in DMK's living room.  Which brings me to his home and studio. The house  is really two - a 200-year old house which was one of the first structures in El Rito, and a newer addition. David took me on a tour and I snapped away.

                You enter through a large gallery/studio filled with current work - every surface warm and inviting.

As you meander through the rest of the house,  his favorite prints and belongings take pride of place in every room.  

His handmade kitchen table.

 Henry who was along for the two-year road trip.

Upstairs is his darkroom where the magic happens.

David teaches Master Classes in landscape, portraiture and Platinum/Palladium printing. His vintage airstream is outback and available if an artist would like to be in residence for a week or so. David's work is on display locally at Legends Gallery,   and his work is coveted by an impressive list of collectors. Five of his photographs are being considered by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery for their permanent collection.




125 Lincoln Ave, Santa Fe, NM

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