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Vliet photographs on display

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A unique demonstration of Vliet’s digital imaging process, “How to Turn a Snapshot into a Work of Art,” will be included in her exhibit.

Local photographer and Rappahannock Art League (RAL) exhibitor Ann Vliet will have a show of her photographic digital images at the RAL’s Studio Gallery in Kilmarnock. Titled “The Eye of the Beholder: Digital Images from Realism to Abstract Expressionism,” the exhibit will be on display from August 2 through September 4.

The show will highlight Vliet’s unique method of combining photography with computerized digital technology and will include images of Northern Neck life as well as cultural studies of women’s attitudes toward adornment. 

Vliet’s creative journey began years ago in south Texas as the third child of a railroad engineer who lost his job in the Depression, became a sharecropper farmer, and eventually lost the farm. “We had to live in a railroad boxcar,” Vliet said. “I didn’t have anything: no toys, no one to play with. I had to rely on my imagination.”

Years later, she graduated from Southwest Texas University and married fellow student R.G. Vliet. They taught for two years in Texas before moving to Connecticut where he began a life-long writing career and she studied directing at Yale Drama School. After receiving her doctorate in English from Penn State, she taught theatre and English at four colleges and universities in the Northeast and directed over 25 theatre productions.

Following her husband’s death in 1984, Vliet bought a “point and shoot” camera and embarked on a trip to Italy. She shot 86 rolls of film before having them printed. “The first few rolls were not worth developing,” she said, “but then an amazing thing happened. I noticed that the more photos I had taken, the better I had gotten at taking them.” Greatly encouraged, she enrolled in a two-year, study-by-mail program conducted by the New York Institute of Photography. 

She returned to Texas, invested in a more sophisticated camera and began to shoot photos for the news media. She also managed the darkrooms for two weekly papers and became the photo-editor for one of them. In the years to come, she won several photo contests and began to exhibit her work in local galleries.

In 1993, she retired from photojournalism and moved to Kilmarnock to be near her daughter and grandchildren. She bought a new computer with graphics software and discovered its ability to manipulate a photo, allowing her to “paint” parts of an image. Using this process, she found she could achieve textural effects, intense coloration and imaginative plays of light—all elements, she said, that define her work. 

A unique demonstration of Vliet’s digital imaging process, “How to Turn a Snapshot into a Work of Art,” also will be included in her exhibit. It will feature “Ken,” friend of iconic “Barbie,” as the photographic model. The creative journey continues.

The public is cordially invited to the opening reception on Friday, August 5, from 5-7 p.m. at the RAL Studio Gallery, 19 N. Main Street, Kilmarnock. For more information, call the gallery at 436-9309. 

posted 07.27.2011

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