Although they hang quietly on a wall at the Littleton Museum, these are photographs that want to tell stories. Each one is carefully thought out as to content, light, color, pattern, mood …. They await interaction with the visitor.
Photographers Karen Kirkpatrick and Fee Chinn were Best of Show winners — in black and white and color — in the 2012 Eye of the Camera Exhibit, sponsored by the Littleton Fine Arts Board. In addition to a cash award, these winners are invited to hold a two-person exhibit the following year at the Littleton Museum.
Their work combines evenly, although it is hung separately. A dreamy quality prevails and calls on the viewer to bring imagination to the gallery and interact with the images. We were able to visit the gallery with Kirkpatrick, a Centennial resident. Unfortunately, Chinn, who lives in Lafayette, was held up by a spring snowstorm.
Last year’s winners are mounted at the gallery entrance. To the right, one finds Kirkpatrick’s work, leading with a greeting from a friendly horse, followed by a group called “Light Before Dawn” — “ordinary scenes that have been manipulated slightly in order to infuse them with the emotion I felt as I worked with each of the images,” she explains.
The photographer, who is also a quilter, said she was “trying to loosen up … to make them look like they are my work” as she layered images. She hopes to draw the viewer into the story — make them want to walk on the path, become engaged.
She has become interested in working with a Holga camera, a small plastic “point and shoot,” which tends to distort the image.
When her children were grown she decided to get serious about photography, an interest since she had used her parents’ Brownie camera. Photographer John Davenport encouraged her to go back to school and she finished a BFA degree at CU-Denver, connecting with the arts community.
Fee Chinn’s collection of prints reflects an interest in the feminine mystique she conveys through her images. Her engaging “Night Out” has a female figure floating over a brightly lit city skyline — presumably enjoying her range of choices for the evening.
“I started photographing body form a year ago,” she wrote in her artists’ statement. “I wanted to give the female figure in my images a sense of style.”
Her winning photograph from 2012 is called “Botanical Gardens” and the woman’s form blends in with her floral surroundings. There’s surely a story there: Who is she? Is she alone? Where is she going next?
Some figures have fanciful tattoos from natural subjects — butterflies, for example. Settings are dreamlike. It will be interesting to follow Chinn as she develops this theme further.