There’s no shortage of idyllic photographs of the ocean surrounding Martha’s Vineyard. In her show, Eyes of a Bystander, high school senior Elizabeth Dourian departs from this well-worn theme.
Her pictures create a separation between the viewer and the subject that portrays a kind of loneliness. “I find myself taking a step back from situations and instead of interacting with others, I’d rather observe the obvious. It is interesting to me to see things as a bystander, you notice more when you step back instead of immersing yourself in an environment. You get to see the little things that we think go unnoticed,” Elizabeth said.
The photos show a day at the beach and normally, in a resort community, this connotes happiness and hours spent lying in the sun. This series, however, explores deeper emotions that are more difficult to fit into a clear-cut definition. Elizabeth has been experimenting with using the horizon in her shots to help evoke these feelings. “I have always learned to take pictures with a perspective that is unique to me and my vision. I want to make those who look at my art see the world in the thought-provoking way I do. One of my goals as an artist is to make my viewers ask why? But I want them to come up with their own answers as to why,” she said.
Elizabeth has received much of her training through photography courses offered at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS). “I guess it’s the want to share what I see that separates an artist, or me, from anyone else, and that is what truly inspires me to create my work. But that desire was nurtured throughout my four years at MVRHS by being exposed to other artists, both famous and close friends. So both being exposed to other artists and my want to share what I see have inspired and motivated me in the arts,” Elizabeth said.
She has had help along the way from her photography teacher Chris Baer. “Mr. Baer, not only as a teacher but also as a support system, has really shaped me into the — I guess you can say — artist that I am. I made the work on my own and the ideas are mine, but if it wasn’t for his encouragement and guidance I wouldn’t have pursued my ideas through my pictures the way I have,” she said. Mr. Baer pushed her and the rest of his students to enter their work in photography contests and be true to their personal artistic style.
Vineyard Haven’s 51art Gallery features the exhibit through May 4. An opening reception will be held on April 13, from 6 to 7:30 pm.