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Local Colors of Utah photographer Jeff Clay presents an unusual juxtaposition of flowers and stars in a show entitled “Stars of Earth, Flowers of Heaven.” The title is based on a quote by Arthur Balfour, an early 20th century British statesman: “Are not flowers the stars of the earth, and are not our stars the flowers of the heaven.” Primarily a travel and landscape photographer, Jeff also enjoys capturing the down-to-earth glory of blooming flowers and has also recently begun an exploration of the cosmos via astrophotography. Losing sight of neither the beauty literally under foot and the awe-inspiring blossoms of the far heavens, this exhibit combines impressionistic photographs of our close-to-home “stars of earth” with images of unimaginibly distant stars and galaxies.
From a technical standpoint, Jeff’s flower images have been manipulated either in-camera or in post-processing to produce “impressions” of blooms. As he states, “Some years ago I was in Monet’s Garden and I realized that straight photography of the gorgeous tulips and roses and other flowers that abounded there was a spectacularly non-creative way to express their glory.” With regards to the stars, Jeff photographs them using a small telescope or or just with camera lenses. However, most of the images in this show are actually derived from Hubble Space Telescope raw data that he has downloaded and processed and printed to his own interpretation. “Many people don’t realize that NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) have generated terabytes of raw observational data that is freely available to the public,” Jeff states, “In fact, those agencies encourage global citizens to create their own representations of the cosmos, which I find liberating and exhilarating.”
“Stars of Earth, Flowers of Heaven” opens July 17th with an evening reception on July 19th from 6 to 9 pm and runs through August 13th.