This week I have had a particularly difficult time finding inspiration, as many artists do. However, I decided to look back at all the moments, experiences, and images that bring me back to that beautifully complicated place. This time around it happened to be a local artist who’s photographs transport you into this world of light and dark that is so visually breathtaking you can’t help but want to jump through and exist there. She goes by Chala Jan, of Chala Jan Photographic Imagery. My first encounter with her work was actually at Marywood University. I was told to do a reflection paper on the latest exhibit we had on display in our Mahady Gallery. The show was entitled Flight of Fancy. I walked into the quiet space by myself and was immediately transformed. Describing the experience to you is difficult because I still can’t explain it for myself.
The walls were covered in unbelievable images of worlds we can only imagine. In some she uses a contrast of black and white with electric splashes of rich color that could make the most stern human being emotional. She explores nature and life in a way that somehow defies gravity. There are women in soft gowns who’s fabric glides effortlessly in mid air as if they were submerged in water. A lot of Chala’s imagery seems to have this idea of breaking boundaries. There is an innocent female quality similar to an Alice in Wonderland type fantasy, but at the same time there is a strength in the female presence and form that is striking as well as undeniably powerful. I am absolutely in love with her work; the kind that renders you speechless because it is, somehow, everything you have ever felt.
Embarrassingly enough, I met Chala soon after viewing her work and I acted like a preteen meeting One Direction. I wanted to tell her how much I loved her work and how happy it made me to know that it existed but…that was a little harder to do when she was standing right in front of me. My encounter with her was interesting because she actually doesn’t really consider herself an artist, which really speaks to me in moments when I doubt myself. She has a regular day job and does this on the side. As a fellow artist and art appreciator I just want to personally thank Chala for making the decision to pursue her art. It has changed my life and I hope many others in a way I don’t know she will ever understand. She told me, during our conversation, to “do something crazy,” much like how I imagine her work was for her…something crazy. When I feel doubtful, uninspired, lost, or even like I am not accomplishing things for myself, I think of her work and her words of advice. It all always has a way of pulling me back into my own imaginary world.
All images taken from Chala Jan Imagery Facebook Page