Sidenote’s Li Shen shows photography at AVA

If you’ve appreciated Li’s writing on Sidenote, you won’t be disappointed by her photography

Sidenote’s Li Shen shows photography at AVA
Gallery visitors view the photographs at the opening

Li Shen doesn’t limit her creativity to writing for Sidenote. She’s had a long-time interest in ceramics, sculpture, and photography. Digital photography has been a passion of hers since the mid-2000’s. And now she has a solo exhibition, The Enduring Book,  on display at AVA Gallery in Lebanon until September 30th

“When I was a young child I would refuse to eat unless my mother read to me. A meal was a drawn-out affair, one spoonful per page of a large-print children’ book,” Li explained.

Books became a preoccupation in her teenage years, and later a practical source of wisdom when she moved to Vermont and sought through books the voice of experienced mentors on topics ranging from caring for fruit trees to raising chickens.

“This body of work [on display at AVA] is a homage to books and the imagined or practical worlds that live between their covers,” Li said.

“Coral Fungus” depicts forest fungi from the woods behind Li’s home, and one of the books used to identify them.`

This feeling for books is conveyed through use of  life photography, which draws its roots from still life painting, an art form associated with the Dutch masters.

Fantastic Voyage” speaks to our yearning for adventure and escape from our domestic lives. However, the nearest water for this imagined voyage is the bathtub.`

Li explained her process: “... studio work lends itself to meticulous control. A chance to manifest the image that’s in my head - if I have one. Sometimes it may be clear to the point where I can sketch it out on paper. Or it may be a fuzzy notion, a feeling or sensation. But an abundance of careful planning, arrangement of lighting, camera angle and subject material, can crush the life out of an idea too.”

A guest at the show’s opening commented, “I love books. Reading has always been important in my life and greatly appreciated during all the time we spent at home during COVID, so your featuring books in your photographs I loved. But it is your compositions that really captured me, along with the razor sharp focus, color, textures and the rich, black background that was just dazzling.”

“Grounded” shows the scene after Li clipped the flight feathers of one of her chickens that took to flying over the electric fence that protects them from foxes, coyotes and other predators.`

Another said, “I know I have never seen anything like your photos… Interesting, Gorgeous, Compelling, Creative, Thought Provoking, Beautifully done!“

If you’ve appreciated Li’s writing on Sidenote, you won’t be disappointed by her photography. Next time you’re in Lebanon between 11 am and 5 pm Tuesday through Saturday, take a stroll through AVA gallery.

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