Sheila Chambers’s description of her family’s experience in Paris last year is dreamlike and full of whimsy, but not for the reasons that you might expect.
Firstly, her memory is colored not just by the point of view of a tourist, but also that of an artist, one whose work as a professor here at Salt Lake Community College has spanned many years and many subjects, from traditional Illustration to Adobe Illustrator and beyond.
Secondly, it is tied to her most recent, almost unintentional success, as she earned Honorable Mention for her piece “Eiffel Freezing Spaceship” in the Utah Cultural Celebration Center’s newest photography gallery, the “Utah Travels Photo Exhibit.” The exhibit is a gallery showcasing the talents of both experienced and inexperienced photographers as they explored one of two themes, either Utah being traveled or Utah residents traveling.
For Chambers, the trip to Paris for Christmas was meant for only enjoyment, as she would have the chance to visit famous sites of the historic city. The photographic end results of her whimsical explorations were unexpected enough to catch her eye. With her camera always handy, the cold weather helped Chambers inadvertently produce an uncommon, if not strange view of the Eiffel Tower. It appeared to be purple.
“Not only was it purple, but it was dripping, so the images looked like I had applied this really wild Photoshop filter, but it was really I think just the cold affecting the electronics,” Chambers said.
This accident struck Chambers’ fancy enough to submit it into the show, a show she applied to as an amateur, having only picked up the hobby of photography recently as life stresses piled up and she wasn’t able to delve into her usual artistic medium.
“I’ve just really been enjoying committing to it as more than just reference and responding to the thing itself,” adding with a laugh that she doesn’t consider herself a real photographer.
Her background in design, however, has aided this exploration and made up for any perceived lack.
“What I have going for me is that I have a good sense of design,” Chambers said. “The photo that’s in there that won Honorable Mention, I think it was noticed because of its design. It’s got a great arch in the middle from the point of view of being on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. And it has some what I call ‘lacy work’ so that the metal struts create a great sense of pattern. So you have arc and pattern. And naturally you’re going to have a good photograph. When you see it, look for pattern.”
The exhibit only accepted two pieces from each artist, making the final selection difficult. Out of three images submitted by Chambers, “Eiffel” and another piece titled “Carousel Hotel de Ville” were chosen, the second having been accidentally misnamed as “Paris Town Hall” for the gallery presentation. But it’s clear the former is favored.
“I look for line and for shape–that’s why I love this piece,” she said. “Even when I got it back and it was purple, and dripping,” she said laughing, remembering both the whimsy of the moment and the humor of the situation while still in awe of her unexpected success.
To see pieces by Sheila Chambers and others, visit the Utah Cultural Celebration Center. The “Utah Travels” gallery showing will Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. until February 29. It is free of admission. For more information call (801)966-3600 or visit www.wvc-ut.gov