Arts & Culture
2:11 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Photo Exhibit At Blue Star Features Striking Portrait Silhouettes

An exhibit opening at the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum on Wednesday is a series of portraits that don’t really look like portraits.

“A common theme throughout this work and a lot of my work is identity," said Jenelle Esparza, the artist/photographer whose work is featured in the exhibit called Ancestral Archetypes.

"So I used silhouettes of people instead of a detailed frontal portrait of somebody," she said.

In fact those portraits reveal very little detail of each person’s face, and as Esparza explained, that’s not by accident.

“I wanted these images to be psychological and more felt than they were seen,” she said.

Ancestral Archetypes opens Wednesday at the Blue Star. The technique Esparza used on these portraits is very retro.

“I photographed the nature and the landscapes that immediately surround the homes of these individuals," she said. "And then I went inside the home and picked a light source, usually a window, to photograph their silhouette, on top of that.”

In case you missed that, all these pictures are multiple exposures onto film. You heard right, film.

“It’s a low-speed film and all the exposures were done in-camera,” Esparza said.

“That is so last century!” I said.

“I really en enjoy old processes," Esparza laughed. "I like old cameras and sheet film specifically, I like black and white, and I develop it on my own. Using these old cameras, I’m in love with it.”

The portraits are moody and textured, with lots of image overlay. I asked her the details of her exhibit opening.

“The exhibit will open July 2, from 6-8 p.m., and it will also have a First Thursday opening on July 3,” Esparza said.

It’s not a First Friday opening because of the July 4 holiday.