Most Floridians recognize a midday rainstorm as an inconvenience or hindrance on the day’s plans.
For local artist Michelle Nagri, it’s only an opportunity to create art and take a different look at the world.
“I like the way nature and man-made objects interact,” Nagri said. “Nature is very accessible and beautiful. I’m usually called to a certain composition or something and then capture things that way.
It was almost a decade ago when the 32-year-old artist and writer picked up her first digital camera to show her friends the details she sees in the world around her. Starting Friday, local residents can gather at the Artisans’ Guild Gallery as she is honored for her great work in photography.
Nagri has been announced as the Artisans’ Guild Gallery Artist of the Month and will have her work displayed in the gallery from July 26 to Aug. 22.
The Artisans’ Guild Gallery, established in 1970, is a co-op of local artists who come together to help promote and sell their art.
After trying her hand at painting, Nagri said she wanted a more accessible art form that could help her show others what she saw in the world.
“I always had, an eye for details that nobody really noticed,” she said. “The photography is a way to be like, ‘Okay, instead of me telling you what it is, I’ll show you what it is that I notice.’”
She attributes her five-year membership in the Gainesville Photography Club to aiding in her discovery of the possibilities of photography and art.
“It gave me insight into where you could go, in some pretty incredible types of photography,” she said. Nagri explained there were a variety of photographers shooting wildlife and landscapes, which showed her a wide range of subjects and digital processing techniques.
Those digital processing techniques became the catalyst for starting her complex 365 project.
Post-processing is a core element of photography that people often forget. Nagri explained post-processing digital techniques intimidated her and she stayed away from it until she began working with another photographer who asked her to use Photoshop.
As Nagri started to use the program more in her work, she said she was faced with the conflict of having multiple edited versions of a photo that she liked.
“I had a lot of different versions and thought, what if I let myself keep all of these versions and let go of that fear of ‘I don’t know where I want to go [from] here,’” Nagri said.
It was with that attitude in mind, as she approached 30, Nagri said she decided to defy the aging rut most of her friends fell into and on July 22, 2017, she created the blog for the 365 project. The project consisted of Nagri taking one photo and editing it a different way in Photoshop every single day.
“I created the blog, so people would know the story behind the image and what I was feeling before I made that edit,” she said. That project and blog resulted in the creation of a 232-page book available as personally signed copies on Nagri’s website.
Work from the 365 project will be on display in Nagri’s featured Artist of the Month section of the gallery.
According to Gainesville jewelry designer and guild president Jeanne Bunting, the Artist of the Month honor is still a generally new process. She said the selection process isn’t very specific and based on recommendations of interesting artists to feature either in or outside of the guild from its current members.
Nagri said she was very excited when she got the news and added in her Facebook post about the event that it must have something to do with the month of July, which has now become very special to her — July is her birthday month, as well as when she started the 365 project.
Nagri added she is also excited for people to see pieces from her newest project “For the Love of Water.” She said the project came about because of her love of the element and desire to start shooting after 365 ended.
“I missed shooting and water was the first thing that came to mind, especially now because of all the issues with pollution and climate change,” Nagri said.
While she doesn’t know when her current project will be finished, Nagri has already thought of a theme for her upcoming project.
“I have a couple of pieces that have some space qualities to them, so I think it would be interesting,” Nagri said. “It would be fun to see what I can hunt [down] in nature to replicate some of those elements.”
The opening reception for the gallery and Artist of the Month exhibit will be held during Artwalk Gainesville Friday from 7 to 10 p.m.
Self-portrait of Nagri as photo number 365 for her daily editing project.