Lauren Beyer says she always took pictures in her mind, but it wasn't until two years ago, when a friend gave her a camera, that she was able to share what she saw. And what she saw was graffiti, and she saw it everywhere: spray-painted on trains and appearing naturally on the wings of butterflies. She saw graffiti in a sky marked by fireworks.
Beyer divides her works into three categories: Graphotos (freight trains); Granature (nature); and Grafire (fireworks). More than 120 of her images are on display at WKNO's Gallery Ten Ninety One in the exhibit "Trains of Souls." An opening reception will be held August 6th, from 2 to 4 p.m.
The first graffiti image Beyer took was on a train on a bridge at Airways. Painted on the side was the word "sorrow." "It brought up this feeling of hopelessness," Beyer recalls. "It's like the writer is leaving a little piece of his soul."
Beyer sticks to the graffiti on trains rather than on walls, which she sees as more territorial. The train graffiti travels the country and is meant to be shared. "The talent of graffiti artists is just amazing ... the techniques in contrasts and shading." She notes all the research and planning that has to be done and the amount of equipment that has to be hauled for these artists to make a successful mark. (She admits to some questionable endeavors of her own, involving walkie-talkies, trespassing, and climbing on trains. Having been caught on security cameras, she's since backed off that approach.)
As for her nature photography, Beyer says her subjects often find her. A butterfly will fly within the camera's range when she's focusing on something else. A black widow spider will appear just to have the hourglass marking on its back captured. Then there's the blue heron that makes frequent appearances in her backyard. "Its eyeball is like graffiti. There are lots of layers," she says. "If you look at anything, it's made up of a lot of things."
By the way, Beyer is a financial analyst. "I work in a box all day," she says. "But I'm not an in-the-box person."
"Trains of Souls" at WKNO's Gallery Ten Ninety One through August 29th. Opening reception Saturday, August 6th, 2-4 p.m.