What They Eye Sees And The Hand Captures

This article was first published as “Israeli artist discovers new purpose through photography” in JWeekly.

Chami Lerner’s “In Circles,” Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River, Arizona

Chami Lerner grew up not even knowing that photography was an art form. In fact, she barely ever saw a camera while being raised in a large Hassidic family in Kfar Chabad in Israel. But now, at 40, she has discovered that she loves looking at the world through a lens.

Twenty-six photographs she took on a cross-country road trip with her family in the summer of 2011, a year after their move from Israel to Sunnyvale, are now gracing the walls of the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto.

Simcha Moyal, a Palo Alto–based Israeli artists’ representative and consultant to the JCC, curated the exhibition. “I think it’s significant that these are pictures of the United States. Usually Israeli artists want to exhibit work that depicts life in Israel, but Chami wanted to portray her journey of discovering her new home,” Moyal said of the large-scale landscapes that make up the show.

Moyal came up with the title “Maqama” as a reference to a classic Arabic literary genre with two heroes. “Chami and her camera are the two heroes here,” she explained. “What is so striking about Chami’s photographs is that she has done no retouching or digital alteration to them. It’s just her and her camera.”

Lerner echoed this in an interview last week at the JCC. “For me, it’s all about what the eye sees and the hand captures,” she said. She is completely self-taught and only recently bought her first camera, a Nikon D90, which she carries with her everywhere and pulled out of her turquoise shoulder bag to show.

“Explosion, Disproportionate,” Crissy Field, San Francisco, by Chami Lerner

Click here to read more.

© 2012 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.


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