Denver’s annual celebratory month of photography kicked off with a flash and a bang March 1.
MSU Denver’s Center for Visual Arts started the month off with an exhibition featuring a number of artists from around the globe in a dual exhibition titled “Semblance” and “Guised.” The exhibits will run through April 13.
Dozens of galleries, schools, museums and studios are collaborating with one another to celebrate fine art photography throughout the city.
The “Semblance” exhibition focused on lens-based and time-based works of art that have similar fundamental components of ambiguity through real life events, while “Guised” is a video based exhibit.
Two of the featured artists, Sama Alshaibi and Neil Chowdhury, were on hand at the CVA for a special artist talk Feb. 28.
Colorado art enthusiast Joshua Swanson, who ventured down from Fort Collins, was excited to get the opportunity to hear the two artists speak.
“I was ecstatic when I found out two of my favorite artists were going to be in Colorado talking,” Swanson said. “I made the drive in less than an hour.”Alshaibi and Chowdhury share more than a few things in common. Both were born outside the U.S. and both possess unique backstories that brought them to the states.
Alshaibi is known around the globe as an extremely multi-talented mixed media artist focusing her artistic endeavors on depicting issues of conflict. She also is an associate professor of photography and video art at the University of Arizona.
Chowdhury is a multi-talented photographer who has had his artwork shown around the world. Chowdhury’s photojournalism talents were on display throughout the gallery.
His collage pictures told a story of the realities that people face every day in India.
“When people think of India, they just assume everyone is totally blissed out on a yoga path, but the truth is, not everyone’s like that” Chowdhury said.
Chowdhury was born in India, relocated to England and eventually ended up in the states.
“When my father passed away in 1995, I realized that I knew almost nothing of my own background,” Chowdhury said. “So I made it a point to go back to India and find out more about my culture, where I came from.”
Chowdhury depicts ideas through a series of photographs layered over one another with various intertwining themes that ultimately project a multi-layered collage that speaks volumes on various levels. His personal history and the harsh realities of big-city India are displayed in a striking fashion.“It seemed like I had grown up with all these ideas of a place in my head, all this imagery really lived in my brain and after going back to India I was able to project those ideas through my photographs,” Chowdhury said.
Both artists’ pieces showed visual representations of the tenuous everyday struggle of many human beings across the world through a series of scenes and images of the environment.
“After we work for a while, we can’t talk about our work anymore. You have to start showing what’s relevant now” said Alshaibi.
The one-time refugee, now an American citizen, was able to convey her inspiring message of engaging humans through interaction via her multimedia video “Guised,” which was shown March 1 for Denver’s monthly First Friday Artwalk.
It depicts an intimate, international tale of fantasy, humor and familiarity all at once. The video’s hidden messages required viewers’ innate attention and the use of their imagination to focus and follow the piece’s historic and contemporary use of visual art. Alshaibi was able to curate the project with the help of various artists from across the globe.
The photos that Alshaibi displayed throughout her artist talk shared a common theme of an alluring depiction of the relationship of the land and the lens used to take the photo.
“Popular media already knows you” Alshaibi said. “I try to stray away from what’s already been done.”