Born in 1974 to hippy parents, Ira Lippke grew up with his four brothers and sisters in a converted school bus in the forests, orchards and mountains of Colorado and Washington State. Equipped with a thrift-store camera and a borrowed set of the LIFE Library of Photography, Lippke began developing his eye at age 14 with images that were deeply influenced by the natural beauty of his childhood surroundings.
After moving to Los Angeles to study philosophy and theology at Biola University, Lippke started becoming interested in the way that photography could be used as a medium of social commentary. Traveling extensively for global relief organizations, he began documenting instances of the world’s brokenness, including the aftermath of genocide in Guatemala, the devastation of the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, the spread of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank and the impact of Malaria in Uganda.
Living far from his hippie roots in Los Angeles and, later, New York, Lippke also began to excavate his unusual upbringing through an ongoing series of photographs recreating key memories from his childhood. In the spirit of such artists as Jeff Wall and Philip-Lorca diCorcia, he combined elaborately staged tableaux vivants, landscape photography, portraiture and social documentary into mixed-genre “Autobiographs” that include family members, friends and professional actors.
Toggling between beauty and brokenness, fact and fiction, nature and culture, Lippke continues to explore the world from New York City and his home in Eastern Long Island, where he lives with his wife, cultural critic Andrea Codrington Lippke, and their daughter Rye.
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