Art behind the lens: Robert LaSelle Chism, owner/artist of ChismArtwerx, tells a story and brings out the emotion in his work as a photographer. ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter

Capturing more than just a photo

Craft is ‘an affair of the heart’ for artist

Under an inverted bowl of diffused cloud and sunlight, a time-torn boat rests on a rocky beach near Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend.

On the Elbe train, passing by scrub brush and late-summer foliage, we gaze toward anonymous hills and mountains, view partially obscured by a steam of smoke belching out of the stacks.

Now, we’re behind that weather-beaten old blue pickup out at Auburn’s Olson Farm, looking toward the restored farmhouse.

Photos all, lashed by rain, bursting with great banks of ominous clouds, whispering of wild, windy places, blendings that summon transitory moods and feelings that lie too deep for words.

That is what photographer Robert LaSelle Chism, owner/artist of ChismArtwerx hopes to evoke with his photographs.

“Photography to me is a way to tell a story that evokes thought and feeling. I use my image-making tools to create visuals that are atmospheric and dramatic at times. As I chronicle life experiences through photography, I hope to translate imagery to the viewer in a new a creative way,” Chism said.

“Photography is an affair of the heart, and that is why I devote my energy, time and passion to it,” Chism added.

Until March 9, a selection of Chism’s photographic work is on display in the Cheryl Salee Gallery at Auburn City Hall, 25 W. Main St.

Surrounded by artistic family members, Chism said, he was early drawn to art and creativity, going on to fill sketchbook after sketchbook with abstract shapes, architectural drawings and animation.

Today in his photography, he wraps various forms around those basic inspirations to chronicle life experiences, sometimes taking unexpected twists with creative expression.

“Most of the time, I’m driving past somewhere or walking somewhere, and something will just catch my eye. What I feel about it draws me toward it, and then I try to capture how I felt,” Chism said.

An award-winning artist and photographer, Chism has seen his work take part in national competitions and gallery exhibitions. As a recipient of the Congressional Creative Merit Award, his art was displayed in a year-long exhibition at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.


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