‘BehindTheLens’ exhibit opens at gallery


Brooke Shaden’s photographic works are far from ordinary.

In “Waiting to Fly,” Shaden is the subject of her shot. She stands in a field staring up to the sky. Her dress is composed of paper airplanes, which fly off her body. An airplane can be seen among the clouds.

Her works are currently on display at the Joanne Artman Gallery, alongside the photos of J.T. Burke, in “BehindTheLens.”

The former filmmaking student picked up a camera for the first time four years ago. Since then, she’s been recognized by famed filmmaker Ron Howard in his Project Imagination, a film festival inspired by photos.


“I suppose I’ve always had these screen ideas in my head of what the perfect world would look like,” Shaden, 25, said. “Originally they were ideas I had for films and I decided to change that.”

While studying at Temple University, the Pennsylvania native said she learned the art of visual filmmaking and the importance of capturing a character’s point of tension — when they felt they couldn’t turn back. She tries to incorporate that cinematic element in her photos, which do seem more like surrealist film stills than photographs.

“It seems like the character is almost trapped in the world I created for them,” she said.

In her most recent series on display at the gallery, she stages the shots and then manipulates the image with Photoshop to add a layer — whether it be a dress made of books or dragonflies flying around a man.

Her underwater series is also at the gallery, which she consistently adds to. Women’s bodies can be seen undulating underwater in silky fabric.

Joanne Artman not only shows Shaden’s work but also represents her. She said it’s that element of risk-taking that makes Shaden such a fascinating artist to work with.

“I think what blew me away with her work is her eye, her vision,” Artman said.

Shaden was a Project Imagination winner in 2011 and 2012. Ron Howard’s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, made a film based on one of Shaden’s work and the works of other winners.

J.T. Burke’s photography also mesmerizes, but for different reasons. His pieces are reminiscent of stereograms or kaleidoscope prints. He uses digital photography in his works, where plants and animals look like they’re actually broaches, rings and other jewelry.

“BehindTheLens” is on display through Dec. 31.

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Twitter: @joannaclay