Photographers explore the way of Zen

By From page B2 | June 07, 2017

Jerry Berry, Untitled 5, Archival Inkjet Print

Roberta McClellan 

The Viewpoint Photographic Art Center’s main gallery features two fine art photographers, whose exhibits express a personal interpretation of the way of Zen — capturing their vision of tranquility and beauty. In the Step Up Gallery Viewpoint features member photographer Anna Skacel and her rare and intimate views of village life in Ethiopia taken during her years in the Africa.

A special Second Saturday opening reception for the exhibits — Jerry Berry: The Chi of Koi and Smoke, Jane Olin: On the Edge of Chance and Anna Skacel: Faces of Ethiopia — will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. on June 10.

Berry’s inspiration for his images comes from his interest in Zen, Asian culture and painting.Koi have been an inspiration for artists for millennia, especially in the Asian traditions. The beauty of color form, and movement of these fish bring much joy to the viewer. Berry’s interpretations of Koi have been developed based on his growth as a photographer and artist.

“As photographers we are taught that our camera is the perfect tool to capture the ‘defining moment’ and is unequaled at reproducing finely focused images of sharpness and detail. We subsequently strive to perfect our craft with this in mind,” Berry said.

The story of time and motion could be lost if the photographer freezes an image defining that moment, he added; further explaining that the spontaneity of movement and life can be lost when it is defined as an instant of time by the fast shutter speed of a camera. By allowing his camera to capture a longer portion of time/life and letting the koi become his brush stroking the canvas of his camera sensor, Berry blends the strengths of photographic art with those of a painter.

Olin’s childhood years were spent in Steilacoom, a tranquil village overlooking Puget Sound in Washington. Her introduction to photography came in high school where she fell in love with the darkroom experience. To her regret, she did not pursue an arts education and it was many years before she rediscovered her passion for photography. During the interval, she traveled widely for business. Japan, of all countries she visited, had the most profound impact, she said, and its aesthetics and its Zen Buddhism resonated deeply with her.

The cultural emphasis on beauty found in nature, and in simplicity, in the imperfect, the transient and the values of grace and subtlety suited her own. She maintains a mindfulness practice today and present moment awareness is embedded in her photographic process.

Like the Surrealists before her, Olin has a deep respect for the fortunes of chance. So when a strong impulse to photograph an ordinary scene of dried plants falling against a wall came over her, she followed her intuition. The resulting images became the genesis of her new series: On the Edge of Chance.

What happens to us when we travel? If we are lucky we become transformed. We do this by leaving the comfort of our home and making ourselves available to unfamiliar cultures and amazing new landscapes. The adventure and the challenge of putting ourselves, however temporary, in another place or way of being, can transform any person who makes themselves available to such opportunities.  t can often invigorate our own way of seeing just how wonderful, precious and often times sad, life can really be.

“As a photographer, I am interested in expanding my horizons on this level,” Skacel writes: “There are few things more gratifying than stripping away the expectations of the day and replacing them with the unknown experiences of being immersed in another society’s existence … As a photographer, and fellow human being of planet Earth, I feel that if I can help to open up people’s eyes and minds to the amazing and different things that surround us, then I have managed to do some good in this world. If I can pique the interest of the viewer as to what is happening in other cultures, and as a result, influence them is seeing the world as one diverse but amazing planet, then I have had a good day.”

Viewpoint Photographic Art Center is located at 2015 J St., Sacramento. For more information call (916) 441-2341 or visit viewpointgallery.org.

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