Artist Profile: Kym Kamra 

Art in the City

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Kym Kamra, self portrait 

Kym Kamra shoots “Street” — people on the street or on the Metro…places around town. It’s always about people, people who are different in obvious ways, or maybe just inside themselves. Or it can be a human space like Union Station—the visual door to infinity and another dimension of wonderment.

Street photography looks simple. Just point and shoot. Why should you worry about composition, or contrast, or light effects? With digital cameras that can catch unlimited images, with a dizzying variety of Apps to artsy it up, it’s a snap. Who needs life experiences? A child can do it.

Union Station

Ah, there’s the rub. To be more than a statement of fact, or a glitzy picture signifying nothing, there has to be a connection…and deep understanding—a transfer of meaning—the life force that is built on seeing and touching.

Kym Kamra (her professional name) saw and touched and felt through ten years in the Peace Corps and three different countries. Seeing was painful at times: the girls in New Guinea, standing in the field with their machetes, too poor for shoes, covered with sores. That is a reality that burns your soul. But pain and poverty can be balanced with the power of helping, and the pure joy of being alive.

Papua New Guinea school garden program Peace Corps

Kym grew up in New Orleans, received a BFA from the USL in Lafayette. She goes back often to photograph the musicians and capture the soul of the city. She also has been shooting the Capitol Hill Jazz Jam at Mr. Henry’s for years. Kym reaches into the very heart of jazz for improvised sound—the musical highway to the heavens.

You can buy her postcards, and photographs printed on metal at Groovy DC at 321 7th Street SE, and you can see her work on Instagram and Tumbir.

Jim Magner’s Thoughts on Art
What is the meaning of anything? Is everything a charade—a dance of light—a jitterbug of light rays—a rumba of reflections? When I started out as an artist, I drew to diagram reality. I believed art was the door to meaning and I wanted to find meaning in everything.

If we have an analytic brain—a questioning mind—there has to be a reason for it. Right? I would stand in a pre-dawn desert canyon and wait for the sunbeams to strike the rock faces and for the whole canyon to explode with life. Why? I wanted to paint the way it talked. What it said to me. There had to be an answer, or at least, hints.

It was the same as I looked out over DC from across the Potomac at dawn. I wanted answers in the colors and lines and movement—the elusive understanding.

It wasn’t just about what I asked of art—about the meanings it would uncover—it was about what those meanings asked of me. It was a conversation that could take me flying: visually, emotionally…reaching into ideas and holding them in my heart if not my head.

And why not? Wasn’t the beginning of man the compulsion of meaning? What other purpose could there be, I reasoned.

Was it beauty—loveliness? The power of another dimension? The fragility of thought? The flying…the freedom of boundless splendor? Or could it be merely the groveling for power and status?

Many artists, composers and writers have chased the same questions. Kym Kamra, (see artist profile) looks for the reality behind the visual facade. Me, I’m still looking and wondering if the meaning is there in the sunbeams that strike the canyon walls or dance on the surface of the Potomac.

At the Galleries:
‘From the Earth’
Zenith Gallery Presents
1111 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
– July 31, 2021
Hadrian Mendoza and Kirsty Little use the materials of the earth to craft ideas and conceptual gestures. Mendoza is “constantly reinventing what it means to be a ceramicist.” His pieces are a balance between “functionality and high art.” Kirsty Little creates organic movement—whether it’s the qualities in wire and wood that lead her to explore “the gesture,” or porcelain that leads to “organic shapes, and tightly tailored works.” [email protected]

“Mixed Media”
Zenith Gallery Presents
1429 Iris St. NW
– June 26
“Much out of Little -The Art of Mixed Media,” features Linda Atkinson, Holly Boruck, Ram Brisueno, Julee Dickerson-Thompson, Michael Madzo and Joanathan Ribaillier. Think ‘creativity’ in every combination and color. Check for times. [email protected]

Anne Saybolt
Foundry Gallery
2008 – 8th St., N.W.
– June 30
Guest artist, photographer Ann Saybolt, exhibits large silkscreen photo-derived works. She is also known for her inquisitive black and white photography.
foundrygallery.org    annmccormicksaybolt.com

Jenae Michelle
Capitol Hill Artist
Torpedo Factory
The Smithsonian Craft Optimism show has concluded, but Jenae Michelle, who marketed her one of a kind, designed purses and wearable crafts at the Eastern Market for many years, continues at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria.  [email protected]   www.rangeofemotion.com

“MEG Collaborative Exhibition 2021”
Multiple Exposures Gallery
Torpedo Factory
– July 25
This is the popular annual Group Photography Show in which gallery members use a “collaborative approach to create a sequence of images, each one chosen for its relation to the previous image.” www.multipleexposuresgallery.com

On a personal note: You can watch the very short video (85 sec.) for my historical fiction novel, The Dead Man on the Corner.  https://youtu.be/bQad2_Ck78Q

You can buy the book on both Amazon and Barnes and Nobel, along with my other new historical fiction novel, John Dillinger and Geronimo. See: www.JamesJohnMagner.com.

A Capitol Hill artist and writer, Jim can be reached at [email protected]