The Image Thief 

The photography of Miami's Elena Ehrenwald adds stillness to a globe-trotting gallery.

Style: What draws you to photography?

Ehrenwald: Photography for me is just like painting. Actually, photography is painting with light. … I recently had a big exhibition in the Mexican consulate in Miami … and the theme was "The Prison of Memory." Which is really a thing that comes back to me all the time because I am a person that always tends to hold on to the past and to memories. And it keeps me awake at night. I mean, what's the function of memory? Is it really useful to hold on to your older memories? It weighs you down? Or is it something that you use to go forward and look into the future? I don't have the answers, I just make the images that go with recollections of the past, of my country, of past experiences, and that really shapes my life and my own landscape.

A lot of the landscapes are dusty or foggy. What is the function of the mist?

It's not dust, it's just a way of making these images a little bit surreal. I always imagine that these images come from my dreams. … And that's why I give them that effect of fogginess. Sometimes they're out of focus intentionally because I just feel that dreams are like that: They come and go, and sometimes they're so real and sometimes they're not. Some of my images have [a few] different negatives, so it's actually a landscape that doesn't exist.

When you're out there looking for the scenes or the people, what is it that catches your eye?

It's just a matter of instinct, I guess. … Sometimes I think I see things that are there that other people just don't see. I mean, it's there, but you just aren't drawn to it as I am. It's not very intellectual; it's a matter of instinct that I see something and it has to be mine. I have to take it. And I take it in the camera. S

"Latin Ambience" is on display at The Gallery Art & Design, 16 S. Dooley Ave., through March 19. 355-0102.


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