INTERVIEW: Ali Kate Cherkis

Describing herself as a “visual storyteller”, Ali Kate Cherkis’ photography does just that – each image is a snapshot of life that provides the viewer with an alternative perspective from which to view the world.

Currently studying MA Photography and Electronic Arts at Goldsmiths, Cherkis explores contemporary culture through her photography practice, capturing unique relationships between people and their environment.

Brooklyn, NY. Thankful for the light, for all that it provides. For the ability to see what’s ahead of me. And for the shadows, which teach me balance, Ali Kate Cherkis

What are the inspirations behind your practice?

“Everybody has a story. I’m hoping to tell those tales through my work. I try to find the little things, the links that connect us as humans. It makes the world a little more manageable and feel smaller for a brief moment.”

The Year of the Ram, Ali Kate Cherkis

In three words how would you describe your creative practice?

“Curiosity, emotion, and connection.”

Freedom Towers, Ali Kate Cherkis

What are your current ongoing projects?

“I’m always shooting on the street, and I have mini stories that I’m always looking out for. But I’m about to begin a new project that will blend my street practice with a dream I recently had.”

Ali Kate Cherkis


Where did you grow up? Where are you based now?

“I was born in NY and grew up in Western Massachusetts where I once saw a moose. Now I’m based in London.”

Where did you study?

“I went to Pitzer College for undergrad, studied a bit at the International Center of Photography in NYC, and now I’m enrolled in the MA photo program at Goldsmiths University.”

How long have you been a photographer?

“I’ve always documented – felt the need to keep a record ever since I was a child. But professionally, about five years.”

How did you discover your creative discipline?

“On the street in New York. The people, the light, the movement of the city – it shifted the way I view the world.”

Quaditerology, Ali Kate Cherkis

What initially encouraged you to take up photography?

“I made an image of a welder in a dark corner of a riad in Northern Morocco. His torch lit up the turquoise-blue tiles behind him. That moment was a game changer in terms of the way I saw light and color."

"A few years later, I took a photojournalism workshop with Ron Haviv. He taught me the importance of storytelling and the connection between photographer and subject.”

The Holy Tempest, Ali Kate Cherkis

Is your work a response to any particular issues or topics of interest to you? If so, how do you explore and express these through your practice?

“It’s often an expression of how I feel at any given time. Also, humor is very important for my work. I tend to work through difficulties with laughter. I was a late bloomer who did theatre in high school, and survived by telling jokes when uncomfortable. LOL.”

Ali Kate Cherkis

Please name one or two artists or artworks that have particularly inspired you, or changed the way you approach your practice.

“I’m very much inspired by Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Louise Bourgeois, John Singer Sargent, Nan Goldin, and my mother, Joan Benjamin.”

Clockwise from top right: Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Head #23, Nan Goldin, Misty and Jimmy Paulette in a Taxi, NYC, Louise Bourgeois, Maman, John Singer Sargent, Le verre de porto  |  |