WHIT­NEY LEWIS-SMITH

Ottawa Magazine - - Meet Your Match -

Though she has had the creative urge since child­hood and stud­ied paint­ing and draw­ing at uni­ver­sity, Lewis-Smith’s ca­reer also in­cludes work as a scuba-div­ing in­struc­tor and ma­rine re­searcher. It was fol­low­ing this pe­riod in her life that she started pho­tograph­ing un­der­wa­ter spec­i­mens. From there, she moved her cam­era above wa­ter, cre­at­ing elab­o­rate com­po­si­tions of mainly dried flo­ral bou­quets teem­ing with in­sect life. Think of them as small, unique ecosys­tems. Or you can view them as jaw-drop­pingly gor­geous still-life black-and-white pho­tographs ref­er­enc­ing 17th-cen­tury Dutch Golden Era tableaux. These days, Lewis-Smith can of­ten be found in Mex­ico City, where she is work­ing with like-minded col­leagues in a 19th-cen­tury medium called he­li­ogravure, which in­volves a rather com­pli­cated process of trans­fer­ring pho­to­graphic im­ages to a cop­per plate from which prints can then be made. LewisSmith so adores the ac­tual plates that she con­sid­ers them works of art in their own right. With this process, LewisSmith’s work is evolv­ing in new direc­tions. Her pre­vi­ous en­vi­ron­men­tally themed pho­tographs were re­stricted to plants and in­sects. She plans to add peo­ple ref­er­enc­ing his­tor­i­cal art fig­ures. She has branded this new sub­ject mat­ter bio­philia, a word de­scrib­ing hu­mans’ wish to con­nect with na­ture and other forms of life. An ex­hi­bi­tion of this new work at St-Lau­rent + Hill is be­ing pre­pared for a show this Novem­ber. Ex­pect to be as­tounded.

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