The Front Room Gallery’s covered windows might appear to indicate the gallery is closed this month, but that isn’t the case.
Instead, the current exhibit attempts to hone darkness and shadows for the sake of art, and guests are more participants than anything else.
South Whidbey artist KeKe Cribbs organized the interactive art exhibit, “Selfie and Others Lightbox Playpen,” which runs through Sunday, Jan. 28. The exhibit is designed to “encourage experimental photography, as the room will be set up with various areas for playing with light and shadow.” The show puts visitors in the middle of the work, making them part of the art itself. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday.
Cribbs collaborated with her brother, Robbie Cribbs, who works with light and sound as an artistic medium.
“I was inspired by going to the Yayoi Kusama exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum, and I saw the interest people had with this interactive exhibit,” Cribbs said. “People want to come in to have an experience and hang out for a few hours. Art is successful when you get someone to stop and think for five seconds. That attention span is what I’m after.”
The gallery space, located on the Bayview Cash Store’s second floor, is only lit up by neon lights and abstract stop animation playing on a projector screen. A collection of props are spread around the gallery, encouraging guests to use them to toy with the dim, yet colorful lighting to snap interesting photos on their own devices. The idea, Cribbs says, is to encourage photographers to get out of their comfort zones with their camera settings.
It’s ideal for burgeoning photographers, so Cribbs invited a youth photography class from the Calyx Community Arts School.
Along with the kids’ instructor, David Welton, the students stayed for “about two and a half hours.” Cribbs got their attention as planned.
“They had a blast, and I just think things like this expose people to all kinds of creative outlets,” Welton said. “I wanted the kids to recognize photography is art. You create a picture, you have to know how to use your camera as a paintbrush and how to paint with light.”
Welton said his students, aged 8 to 11, came away with a greater understanding of their cameras. The dim lights and movable objects posed a good exercise to tinker with camera settings at a fast pace. It also massaged a creative eye, as Welton admits his students saw things adults would never see.
Although a fun and low-budget exhibit, he thinks the interactive experience could be invaluable.
“They expressed great joy at the opportunity to take unusual photographs while they also learned more about their camera settings,” Welton said. “I think this is going to influence their artistry for the rest of their lives.”