Arts: A light in the dark
Artist uses black lights and glass to make haunting
John “jaQ” Andrews
If you’ve ever
wondered what glass might look like under tinted ultraviolet light, stop
by Bilancia Gallery, 85 West Pearl St., Nashua, this month.
Hollis artist Allen
Grooms will have his photographs displayed there for this Saturday’s Art
Walk Nashua and thereafter.
Grooms, 23, has been
doing photography since eighth grade and developed his current technique
as a high school senior. It involves shining “black lights” — which emit
ultraviolet rather than the white light normal light bulbs produce —
onto glass. Each bulb has an orange, purple or blue colored plastic
coating. The black light interacts with the uranium oxide in the glass,
producing brilliant results.
“Black light is the
only lighting used,” Grooms said.
technique gives Grooms’s close-up shots a surreal quality. Hints of a
glass piece’s design are hinted at, but the impression is mostly
abstract. The otherworldly landscapes created look almost
computer-generated, but Grooms says the most he ever does to a photo is
touch up contrast. He even works with film rather than digital at times.
Because he’s working
with previously crafted objects, their built-in symmetries manifest
themselves in the photos.
“I’ve learned how to
balance things,” he said. “Some have more abruptness and change,” while
other photographs are more gradual and flow slowly from one side to the
This balance comes
from his fascination with Eastern arts, including Kenpo Karate.
“It’s basically ...
my influences are very tranquil,” he said. He gets to know the pieces he
photographs — usually antiques, he explained, made by “artists of past
generations” — before deciding how to photograph them.
Grooms works in
Sudbury, Mass., at ScerIS, an electronic document management company.
They have a collection of his work, and his photos are also part of
private collections in states from Maine to Florida. Grooms also
exhibited earlier this year at Chester College of New England, where he
studied photography and digital media.
Grooms has been an
artist in one form or another all his life, experimenting with painting,
cartooning, poetry and music. He wants to expand to work with more
chemicals under ultraviolet light.
“I want to take it
as far as I can.”