"Affirmations of Spirit" at the Kimball
November 23, 2010
Photographer Carolyn Guild doesn’t take photographs. She makes them.
Guild, who spends her winters in a log cabin in Big Cottonwood Canyon and her summers in Mexico and Southern California, spends hours planning a photo.
Everything she does is meticulous and deliberate, just like an oil painter does at a blank canvas.
Guild, whose photographs are all black and white, will study a place, travel to it and, with her gear set up, wait until the light is right to snap the shot. She will also create some of her images though the long-exposure technique, which gives the photographs a flowing, dreamy appearance.
Sometimes she comes home with many photos, sometimes only one, and that’s the challenge she faces when trying to express herself.
"I like to photograph a lot in the snow and the ice," Guild told The Park Record. "I like to revisit areas. The mountains, the water and deserts, in particular, call to me.
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" revisiting areas, memories develop. And those background memories help me establish a more intimate working relationship with a place, beyond the obvious scenery. You get deeper layers. And revisiting areas lets this friendship develop over time."
The Kimball Art Center will exhibit Guild’s "Affirmations of Spirit" in the Garage Gallery beginning Friday, Nov. 26. It will run through Jan. 12, 2011.
Guild doesn’t consider herself a typical artist.
"I’m pretty 50/50 when it comes to left-brain and right brain," she said. "I’m interested in the arts, painting and photography, but I’m also interested in science. My major was physical science. And then I did some extended studies with calculus and physics.
"It’s kind of a weird combination, but it works for me."
Her father nurtured her interest in art.
"My father always had a camera or two in his possession all the time," Guild said. "The picture I have of my father is of him making a photograph. He always was giving me a camera and saying, ‘Bring back memories.’ while I was growing up," she said.
Her interest in photography blossomed in the past 10 years.
"I’ve been privileged to travel a lot with my adventure-bound husband," she said with a laugh. "He takes me all over the place and it became natural to pick up a camera again to bring back memories.
"As I started printing some of these photographs, people started wanting to buy them and put them up in their homes and offices."
After entering, and winning, a few photography contests, and winning Black and White Magazine’s Gold Award twice, her hobby turned into a passion.
"When you get that kind of recognition, it makes you feel you’re on the right path, unlike bowling when I do nothing like gutter balls," she said with a laugh."
Guild has always been drawn to black and white photography and began studying the works of Alfred Stieglitz, Minor White, Edward Weston, Paul Caponigro, Wynn Bullock and Ansel Adams, whom she calls one of the true masters in the history of photography.
"There is a sensual nature of black and white photography," she said. "When you strip away all the color, you’re left with the total range and the lines."
Because she has so many photographs in her collection, Guild usually talks with the gallery curators to plan an exhibit.
"We come up with a theme and I choose the photos that fit," she said.
Concerning the show at the Kimball, Guild wanted to choose works that showed her perspective, but also complemented the "Ansel Adams Early Works" exhibit that is running through Jan. 9, 2011.
"I knew I would be exhibiting with Ansel Adams, what an honor," Guild said. "So the theme of my exhibit is ‘Affirmations of Spirit.’ I wanted to choose the photographs that are affirmations of my spirit and the spirit of nature.
"When I go out into nature, I try to see the nature in spirit and reflect that with my own spirit," she said. "When I see that and feel that it’s more a feel, than a see I make that photograph. This group of photographs fits into that reflection."
One of the photographs is called "Here There Be Dragons," which is a shot of the Minarets in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, near the Sierra National Forest in Nevada.
"We were in Red’s Meadows and it had been boring blue sky, blue sky, blue sky," Guild said. "One morning my husband woke me up and said, ‘Carolyn, there are clouds.’
"We jumped out of the tent and I grabbed my camera gear and we went part way up the mountain," she said. "I looked, it wasn’t right. We went a little further and it still wasn’t right.
We went a little higher and it was right. So I set everything up."
Guild’s focus was on the Minarets, a wall of gray granite.
"There was a point in time where they went completely black in shadows and I waited and waited and waited."
Suddenly the sun broke through clouds and a ribbon of light danced off the tops of the minarets, she said.
"I just went ‘click’ and looked at my husband and said, ‘I’ve got it.’
"It was one of those magic moments," she said. "It’s like "Alice falling down the rabbit hole and standing there as the land of enchantment opens up to me."
Carolyn Guild: Affirmations of Spirit" will run Friday, Nov. 26, through Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011, in the Garage Gallery of the Kimball Art Center, 638 Park Avenue. Weekday hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and weekend hours are noon to 5 p.m., admission is free.