Member of the Month
Name: Chris Wenger
How long have you been doing your art:
I’ve been a photographer since I was old enough to hold a camera. Growing up, I imagined making it my career. Somehow after university, when I got into my current career in the aviation industry and started a family, artistic photography fell by the wayside. About five years ago, I finally picked up my camera again and began to record the things I noticed in the natural world around me.
What got you originally interested in the art you do:
In 2012, I watched a movie called “The Big Year” which is a comedy about bird watching, starring Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson. As a result, I became more interested in the birds I saw every day and every year. Suddenly, the camera became a much more important tool to help me identify the birds I was seeing. My new love of birds reminded me that I really liked being out in nature, and since I was using my camera anyway, I began to notice and record more and more of the beauty around me.
What is something you have learned about yourself through your art:
I realized that I am quite observant and, even without much concentration, I notice small details that often slip past others. I wish that I had never given up carrying my camera and recording the magic of the light around us because there were so many years that somehow slipped past me, “unobserved”.
What do you enjoy the most about your art:
Photography tunes me into the natural world. I have seen and recorded things in the last four years that I never would have noticed if I had not gotten back into photography. When I capture images, I feel like I am not only capturing the natural ornament of the world in that moment, but I am also recording the memory of that space within me when it was captured. Later, looking at my images, I am transported back to the place, time and feeling that existed when the original moment was recorded.
What is you favorite joke/quote:
“Colour is dependent on light and light is forever changing; therefore, there is no ‘this is red’, ‘this is blue’, things are always in the process of becoming red or leaving red because it’s all dependent on light.” Ursula Johnson, 2017 Sobey Art Award Winner.
I like this quote as it pertains to photography since the real medium of a photograph is not ink or glass or anything else but light itself. My goal, as a photographer, is to use light to create my art. This is both a challenge and a gift: a challenge because light is always changing and, in order to record it, one must be present in that moment when the light is “leaving red”; and also a gift because the camera allows me to seize those moments almost instantaneously. I also like this quote because it is very insightful about the fleeting nature of each second.
If you could teach everyone one art medium or method, what would it be, and why:
I’m not sure I have the ability to teach anything in photography as my techniques are generally pretty simple or rudimentary. However, in anything, artistic or every day, paying attention to details is critical. The details of subject matter, framing, what is left in focus or not in focus, what is in the background, and the interplay of negative versus positive space within the image are all very important. When I am capturing moments of changing light and showing motion within a frame, it is often impossible to control all of it. When I am able to capture a beautiful image, I am less focussed on it being a ‘perfect’ image as long as the details come through, and it expresses them in a pleasing way.
What do you think makes art important:
Art allows us to express ourselves in a manner that doesn’t require the use of words. To be able to show beauty in whatever form it takes to the artist, and to share that beauty with others, is a worthwhile pursuit on its own. Ideally, that expression of emotion or beauty will touch another person and inspire them to look at the world differently. Of course, it is not always about showing the beautiful things in the world, often quite the opposite, but the end result is the same, allowing the piece of art to make an impact on others so that the viewer can see the world from a different perspective, providing the opportunity to grow or change. I think art has the ability to illustrate different values, insights or expressions on any subject and make it more accessible to a greater portion of the population rather than relying on ordinary means of communication.
What is something most people don’t know about you:
I’m really not as shy as my quiet nature would lead most people to believe.
Why are you a member of the Kamloops Arts Council:
The Arts Council provides a great opportunity for new artists to show and promote their work. For someone without a formal art background, it is a safe and unintimidating way to enter the ‘gallery’ world. The council provides beautiful spaces to display our work, as well as great support for both the artists and the community. Without these opportunities, it would be difficult for new artists to have the chance to show their work in a gallery setting. The Council also has great workshops and is a comprehensive resource of information for festivals and ways to better yourself as an artist.
What are you looking forward to the most in this upcoming year:
I’m really excited to have the opportunity of a second solo show at the Courthouse galleries in the near future. I’ve enjoyed the task of taking and selecting the images, and I love that I will be able to finally see them all together on the gallery walls. I am also very excited to have had a few images selected for a show at a gallery in Victoria, so I can continue to promote myself as an artist to viewers outside of the Kamloops area.