Janice Jester, a counselor at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School, says that she became interested in photography when her nieces and nephews were young. She began taking photos of them about 15 to 20 years ago and, when family and friends saw her unique portrait work, began asking her to take portraits for them.
“So many people were asking me to take portraits, I decided to get a business license about seven years ago and start doing it professionally,” Ms. Jester said. “All my portrait work is very creative. I have taken families, high school senior portraits, engagements and couples, but they are all unique. I start by asking where they like to hang out, what they like to do together and then incorporate that into the portraits.”
Marcia Reed, owner of Gallery 37, had seen some of Ms. Jester’s work and thought she would be a good fit for her “Rusted” exhibit at her gallery. She approached Ms. Jester and asked if she would like to provide photographs for the exhibit. Ms. Jester said that she had never done gallery work, but that she always had an ambition to do so. This was an opportunity for her to step out of her comfort zone and try something different.
“I love seeing beauty in ashes,” Ms. Jester said. “I like to shoot in the inner city, to photograph fallen down barns. I seem to be able to find beauty in deterioration. This was one way I could do that.” Ms. Jester’s photos in the exhibit are a woman with rust-colored hair, dressed in white, with rusted building parts in the background. Ms. Reed said that one woman who saw the photos was so moved by them, they made her cry. The woman told Ms. Reed that the story expressed in the three photos reflected something she had just gone through so she could relate to what Ms. Jester was trying to express.
Under the photo, Ms. Jester explains the story of the woman she photographed, saying that the woman walks through life “all beauty, silk and shine” but that she is unaware that beyond the rose-colored glasses she wears, life around her will eventually crumble and deteriorate.
“Soon enough, something cold in her world jolts the minds eye,” Ms. Jester writes. “Awake and the heart breaks at this reality – what she’s allowed to become, always primping, always looking at the reflection, but never reflecting, never really looking outside herself…until now. Can there be purpose without perfection? What is the value of internal wealth? Brand new ponderings bring new perspectives. This new sight is frightening but perhaps hopeful. True beauty awakened rises and turns overgrown vines into new leaves, closes rusted doors on the old self. One brief glance back, a head bowed and a promise to seek ever-lasting treasures.”
The “Rusted” exhibit at Gallery 37 also features four other photographers, including Milford photographer John Mollura. The exhibit will run until November 30 and all artwork displayed is for sale at the gallery located on South Walnut Street.