By Patricia Chow
Last weekend I had my first photography show in Chelsea (New York City), as part of the High Line Open Studios. Since my day job is in statistical research, this was my first experience putting together an art show – and it was fabulous! The show was a great way for me to combine three completely separate facets of my life: the artistic side (I am a photographer and graphic artist); the volunteer side (I teach ESL 3 days a week); and my personal and professional networks, which were instrumental in ensuring the success of the show.
I first started to photograph when I was living in Spain in 1995, and much of my photography focuses on the different perceptions that a newcomer has of ordinary surroundings. Since beauty can only exist in the eye of the beholder, I have tried to convey the essence of what I find beautiful in a place, rather than what is commonly considered beautiful, which, in many cases, is simply familiar. There are a few images below – you can view more of my work on my photo blog. Selected images are available for purchase as prints on Society6 and facebook.
In addition to photography, I also create whimsical, stylized elephant designs. “Elephant Love” is the brand name for these designs, which are also sold on Society6 and facebook. They are inspired by artists and design companies such as Marimekko, Keith Haring, Andy Warhol and Walasse Ting, as well as by traditional folk arts such as Russian matryoshka (nesting) dolls and the molas that are embroidered by the Kuna Indians in Panama. A variety of home decor and novelty items are available with these designs, such as posters/prints, blank stationery cards, throw pillows, iPhone covers, tote bags and clothing (t-shirts, tank tops, hoodies, etc.). The bright colors are great for decorating your apartment or nursery/kid’s room.
Because my work is primarily digital, I appealed to my friends and family for donations to cover the cost of producing physical items for my show. This was my first attempt at crowdsourcing and I was very impressed by how supportive everyone was.
In order to encourage people to support my show, I promised to donate the profits from the sale of artwork and merchandise to a good cause: the Institute for Immigrant Concerns, where I am a board member. The Institute is a New York City non-profit that provides free English classes and basic social services to low income immigrants, refugees and asylees. The amazing stories of our alumni have been featured in the New York Times and other newspapers. I was a volunteer English teacher with them for two years before becoming a board member, and
I continue to volunteer with them about 12 hours a week. The combination of the artistic cause and the social cause was a great way to reach a wider audience.
We are planning one more open studio day in a few weeks (possibly Thursday, November 7), so stop by if you happen to be in the area! Details about the event to follow soon… In the meantime, check out my website, blog and facebook page! Thank you for your support!
Photographer, Block-by-Block Photography
Graphic Artist, Elephant Love
(Read Patricia’s Firstindigo&Lifestyle interview from April 2013 here)