Arlington-area women’s photography group puts work on display at museum

Posted Friday, Apr. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The women whose work now hangs in the Rooftop Gallery at the Arlington Museum of Art are as diverse as the photographs they take.

Take Angelia Sims. She caught the picture-taking bug with the help of a digital photography certification course at the University of Texas at Arlington in 2010. One day she hopes to turn it into a moneymaking side business.

Lora Phillips, on the other hand, has been shooting still images for as long as she can remember. A part-time job at Arlington Camera ensures that she has a steady income so that in her spare time she can dream up new photographic adventures.

Sims, of Arlington, and Phillips, of Grand Prairie, are two of the five founders of Chics Who Click, a Facebook group started a year ago that now has about 280 members. An exhibit featuring the work of 31 group members opened last week at the museum and runs through Sept. 30.

Some of the photos are framed and are available for purchase. The exhibit will be changed monthly to ensure that it stays fresh, with the work of 20 women at a time on display.

Nancy Tice, president of the museum board, and museum Executive Director Chris Hightower said they were pleased to provide gallery space.

Even without looking at the labels below each photo, Tice noted, it’s easy to distinguish one woman’s photography from another’s.

‘Fire girl’

The eye-catching themes include horses, Renaissance fair characters, detail shots, Texana, adorable children, carefully assembled collages, architecture and nature. One woman even specializes in BMX action shots.

“I’m a fire girl,” said Shantel Rich, another Chic. The Arlington mom taught herself studio photography three years ago so that she could take her daughter’s senior portraits.

Now she loves to paint with light, using long exposures to capture bright, colorful visions of the night sky or flaming objects that beg for close examination. The Chics provide “great camaraderie,” she said.

Sims came up with the idea for the group as a way to stay connected with some of her former classmates at the UT Arlington. The Chics are always on the lookout for prospective members. On photo walks at places like the Fort Worth Zoo, they might approach a woman who looks serious about photography. Phillips might mention it to a customer she senses would be interested.

“The other day I was helping a girl and I said, ‘Are you on Facebook? Do you want to join? If you haven’t been added by the time I get home, I’ll add you myself,” Phillips recalled.

Members come from diverse backgrounds and have photographic skill levels ranging from beginner to professional. But all are willing to share what they know and to give encouragement when needed. They also team up on night shoots for their safety.

“We have different niches,” Phillips said. “Some girls know more about photography. Some know more about Photoshop. If one of us has a question about how to do something in Photoshop, we post it and before long we have a long thread of conversation.”

Support group

Their support for one another extends beyond their craft. One of the founding members is coping with breast cancer, so the others pitched in and bought one of her prints. Originally they were going to auction it off and donate the proceeds to her.

“She didn’t want that,” Phillips said. “She told us to put the money back into the group.”

The Chics plan to have monthly receptions during the exhibit. The first was Friday, the same evening the museum held a reception downstairs for its next major exhibit, “Spanish Colonial Art.”

Tice, the museum board president, said having the photography reception at the same time would give the Chics exposure from hard core art lovers.

“We felt like they deserve it,” she said. “These are professional-quality photographs that are also art.”

Patrick Walker, 682-232-4674 Twitter: @patrickmwalker1

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