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Echo Lew
Artist Statement
"The Light Drawings"

After several hours of preparation, I use just a single shot to complete each image. During an exposure time of approximately one minute, I manipulate lights in front of the camera to create “Light Drawings.” Sometimes I invert the positive image to a negative one on a computer but otherwise the “Light Drawings” are not manipulated. Sometimes I put the same positive and negative images side-by-side in the finished piece.

I have been drawing with traditional mediums for twenty-eight years. I used oil painting to explore the effects of light in a 2006 solo exhibition, “See the Light,” at the Little Tokyo Cultural Center, partnered with Helen Keller International. I became curious about the effects of lights in motion. Could this become the basis of a new kind of drawing? I experimented with cameras and lights until I was able to spontaneously tap into decades of drawing experience while the camera’s shutter was open, bringing life to a series of “Light Drawings.” 

The technique originated in 1914 when scientists Frank and Lillian Gilbreth used small lights and an open shutter to track the motions of factory workers.  My light drawings are inspired by Jackson Pollock and Cy Twombly whose paintings are composed with spontaneous actions, performances traced in time.

In my Zen Buddhist meditation practice, the lights bend like a reed in the breeze,  or soar freely as a bird above a cliff, thousands of lights dancing in my mind. The inner world is clean, clear and full of fresh air. Thousands of lights move as a wave. The secrets of the universe are revealed.

Music, especially classical symphony, also shapes these visions. I draw the feelings the music brings forth, the expansive sense of flying over mountains, rivers, and oceans.

I have been an abstract painter for many years, concerned with line, shape, composition and concept. Digital photography allows me to expand creatively while using an ultra-contemporary medium with limitless potential.

Art for me is an experimental adventure, a profound form of play.