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Taking A Closer Look

Local artist exhibits her talent for finding new details in every-day objects.

A solo show by Reston Photographic Society member, Carolyn Koslow, will run through March 31 at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 1625 Wiehle Ave., Reston. Koslow's photographs reveal the extraordinary details found in nature, architecture and all sorts of everyday objects. Koslow took the time to answer some questions via e-mail about her upcoming show, the inspiration behind her "extreme close-ups" and why she likes to create her work in silence.

Where are you from originally?

I was born in St. Louis and grew up in Missouri and Oklahoma. I have been living in northern Virginia since 1978.

Who are your major artistic influences?

Vincent van Gogh and Georgia O'Keefe are my favorite painters. I am also inspired by the black and white photographs of Ruth Bernhard and John Blakemore. Finally, I love the floral x-ray fine art prints created by Steven N. Meyer.

Any local community influences in your work?

Since some of my favorite subjects are trees, leaves, and flowers, I love to photograph at Greensprings Garden Park in Annandale and at Meadowlark Garden Park in Vienna. I also browse local floral shops looking for unusual flowers and plants.

Other influences?

My degrees are in mathematics and I have always been fascinated by geometric patterns and repeating patterns in nature and in man-made objects. As a child, I was fascinated by using a microscope to get a magnified look at everyday "stuff." I remember being disappointed if an object was too bulky to fit under the microscope or if the details that I wanted to see were beyond the magnification power at my command. At the same time, I was learning the basics of photography using my Kodak Brownie camera and wondering how I could take photographs through my microscope. Although I never succeeded in taking photographs through my children's microscope, I now use digital imaging techniques to accomplish much the same result.

Favorite medium to use and why?

I use a digital camera with a macro lens and a flatbed scanner to get my extreme close-ups. I especially like the incredible levels of detail a flatbed scanner produces at the limits of its optical resolution. Using the scanner in this way allows me to see incredible detail in leaves, flower petals, glass, crystal, and all sorts of everyday objects. When I photograph this way, I can capture almost microscopic details. Then I make my own archival digital prints using Adobe Photoshop software and an Epson Stylus Pro 9600 wide-format printer.

Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist?

I have been drawing and photographing since I was a teenager, but did not consider myself to be a professional artist until recently. I considered my art a hobby despite the fact that for the last eight years I have been successfully exhibiting and selling my works. A couple of years ago, when I started exhibiting and selling works at the Art League gallery at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, I finally realized that I am an artist and have been one for a while. Since I've just admitted this to myself, it feels like I'm at the start of a new career.

What would you consider the theme of the exhibit?

Extreme close-ups that reveal the intricate details in nature and everyday objects.

Where do you do most of your work?

With the help of my husband, John, I have converted a couple of spare bedrooms in our house into my digital imaging studio. As a result, I have a wonderfully short commute.

What do you listen to when you work? Is it reflected in the work you create?

I find working in silence to be very calming and so I usually work without any music playing in the background. I think the focus that I get by working in a quiet place is reflected in the minute details and precision in my photographs.

What do you hope viewers will get out of the show?

I hope viewers enjoy the variety of pattern and detail revealed in my photographs and that they'll gain an appreciation of the beauty found in the details of everyday life.

What is your favorite piece in the exhibit?

My favorite piece is "Pointing the Way." I like the way this photograph gets the viewer's attention from across the room and then draws them in closer to see the details and to try and figure out the subject.

Koslow's show runs through March 31 at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 1625 Wiehle Ave., Reston. Visit her Web site at www.KoslowFineArts.com.