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One-man Sewickley exhibit a reflection of winning artist's past

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Photography by artist Christopher Sprowls includes a colorful look at homes in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville section.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Photographer Christopher Sprowls, 24, poses for a portrait at his Bloomfield home Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Sprowls, a senior at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, was selected to have his work shown at International Images art gallery in Sewickley in a solo show beginning Oct. 18.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald
Photographer Christopher Sprowls, 24, poses for a portrait on the roof of his Bloomfield home Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Sprowls, a senior at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, was selected to have his work shown at International Images art gallery in Sewickley in a solo show beginning Oct. 18.
Kristina Serafini | Sewickey Herald
Photographer Christopher Sprowls, 24, poses for a portrait on the roof of his Bloomfield home Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Sprowls, a senior at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, was selected to have his work shown at International Images art gallery in Sewickley in a solo show beginning Oct. 18.

Christopher Sprowlsremembers how “awesome” it felt to win a coloring contest in grade school and receive a huge box of crayons as a prize.

Now, he said it feels the same way to be recognized for his creative work on another level.

After winning a student art show contest earlier this year at International Images Ltd. in Sewickley, Sprowls, 24, of Bloomfield will display his photography there in a solo exhibit titled “Reclaiming Landscapes,” from Oct. 18 through Nov. 15.

David Biernesser, gallery assistant director, encouraged Sprowls to enter the contest.

He said Sprowls' photos were chosen from more than 50 studio, art, design, photography and media students from area universities and schools who each submitted three pieces of original artwork for review.

He said gallery officials chose 10 artists from among those applicants, and those who attended the student show chose the winner.

“Chris' artwork is some of the most thought-provoking photography that I have seen in a long time,” Biernesser said.

Sprowls, a student at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, said the images he entered for the contest were conceptual black-and-white still lifes set up in his kitchen.

One photo, titled “Reborn,” features a clock set at 2:15 p.m. placed above a feather, which is above a broken egg shell.

Another, “Rebirth,” features an urn in the background with a broken egg in the forefront.

“They were very personal to me, and some served as a visual journal to overcome an experience or to remind myself to stop slacking off. They were very visceral and surreal. Some were beautiful and others were shocking,” he said.

During the student show, he said, he made a sale and connected with Christine Fréchard, who owns the Christine Fréchard Gallery in Squirrel Hill, where Sprowls displayed photos a few months ago.

The photos to be displayed at International Images are on a different level than the ones he displayed in the student show, he said.

“The series I will be presenting is a reflection on my childhood memories within the landscapes of my hometown,” said Sprowls, who was born and raised in Dover, Ohio.

The exhibit will feature images from Pittsburgh and buildings in the city that Sprowls said he will use to contrast the landscapes in Ohio.

Biernesser said at first glance, Sprowls' work is “aesthetically stunning and a joy to view.

“However, this can be said of most quality landscape photography. What sets Chris apart is his forethought into his themes.”

Sprowls said the series of about 16 photos is an examination of his experiences within the places where he grew up around Dover, but the images of Pittsburgh have more of a static feel.

“The city has encouraged me to explore and think differently. These two different landscapes have similarities and differences that have helped define me as a person.”

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or jbarron@tribweb.com.

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