Professor Emeritus Joe Kirkish retired from nearly half a century teaching in communication skills at MTU (including courses he created in photography and film) and well known photographer of his native Copper Country has devoted his “free” time to honing the creative side in photography. Always experimenting with broader concepts of photography, Kirkish experimented with anything and everything within the extended confines of the medium, both on film and in the darkroom. During the World War Second he worked in a military darkroom and later, during his years in various colleges around the Midwest, he continued to expand his creative inquisitiveness, still winning awards and publishing in many Midwestern newspapers, but also in photo magazines.
As a professor at MTU, he provided a service for the university, photographing for in house and outgoing publications. Then, while teaching photography he pushed his students and himself to use the camera, not just for recording images, but testing the limits of the medium with more and more creative experiments. While at the University of Iowa, working on his doctoral degree, Kirkish took his first classes in creative photography. Under the guidance of Professor John Schulze, known as the finest teacher in the field, he took a quantum leap into a new world of creative photography, which led him to the unique development of portraits in more than the traditional types. He shot “overlayed” portraits, portraits reflected in a huge sheet of plastic, and full length figures covered with wet sheets. Sooner or later, all techniques brought him recognition, not only in the United States but around the world and as far away at the University of Tokyo.The prestigious Canadian magazine “Photo Life” published an extended portfolio of his portraits in the January 2004. Kirkish’s works, including a series on clotheslines, have been shown in the galleries around the country.