THE INDEPENDENT NEWS
BROAD BAY POINT GREENS — Sherry Friel has been shooting photographs since she picked up the family Polaroid when she was 12.
It was a long road toward her passion for hyper-realistic, macro photography of flowers. That work will be the subject of a show, “The Tonic of Wildness: A Seven-Year Retrospective of Floral Images,” at the Leon Family Art Gallery at the Simon Family Jewish Community Center from Thursday, Oct. 27, through Nov. 17.
An opening is scheduled for 1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 30.
Friel studied journalism at Old Dominion University, then worked in reporting, as an English teacher and, after graduate studies in technical writing at Old Dominion, for Sentara.
About seven years ago, she dealt with her mother’s mental illness, which led to her taking on a caregiving role and, later, a devastating estrangement. It left her feeling lost. Three years ago, her mom died, and she also lost a close friend.
Amid these losses, she headed into nature, a “tremendously healthy diversion.” She took photographs, but these excursions were also meditative.
“Photography was just a way to do something healthy and sort of absorb myself into the flowers,” Friel said.
She enjoys the focus upon close, detailed images – seeing the insides of the flowers, as she put it. Some are shot in the studio, but most are out in nature.
During an interview she relayed a story of visiting Norfolk Botanical Gardens for three consecutive days, waiting for a flower to open. “Oh, Mom,” her son said when the flower wasn’t quite there. “You have to go back.”
An image of a sunflower is of a flower her son planted when he was in preschool. One day, she said, it half-opened. “That was the first one I took real close-up,” she said. Nathaniel, her son with her husband, musician Skip Friel, is now 13.
“I want it to become my life’s work,” Friel added, speaking of her photographs. “I really do feel called to do it. It brings such joy to people.”
The exhibition runs from Oct. 27 through Nov. 17 at the Simon Family Jewish Community Center, 5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Suite 100. An opening is scheduled for 1 p.m., Oct. 30. Large canvases and prints will be for sale, with some proceeds going to the JCC’s Cultural Arts Department. Reach the center at (757) 321-2338. Learn about Friel’s work at sherryfriel.com.
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