“A Dream on the Blue Sea” by Silena Wei Chen is on display at Gallery North in Edmonds.

“A Dream on the Blue Sea” by Silena Wei Chen is on display at Gallery North in Edmonds.

The sea meets the sky in this artist’s photos and paintings

You can see Silena Wei Chen’s “Chasing Reflections” exhibit in May at Gallery North in Edmonds.

EDMONDS — Gallery North invites you to ponder the shoreline and the skyline with its May show.

The gallery’s “Chasing Reflections” exhibition showcases artwork by Silena Wei Chen. The award-winning photographer and painter from Seattle has about 25 works on display. Many of the images are inspired by scenes where sea and sky meet along Edmonds beaches.

Featured in the exhibit May 1-31 is Chen’s series of water reflection photographs, Chinese ink impressions and metallic abstracts.

The title of her show is inspired by the chasing of seascapes and sunsets for her art — as they’re both fleeting in nature.

Known for her painterly photography, Chen uses light as paint and the camera as her brush to create surreal images.

“My technique involves long exposure and intensional camera movement,” she said. “All of the colors and the shapes of the clouds were captured by the lens, though I do bump up the contrast.”

Chen, 48, calls her photographs of sea and sky her “signature work.” It’s when she focuses on the water’s reflection, adds Chinese ink and metallics that Chen stretches her artistic imagination.

Silena Wei Chen moved to the U.S. from China 20 years ago. (Brian Vollmer)

Silena Wei Chen moved to the U.S. from China 20 years ago. (Brian Vollmer)

“I love looking into the water,” said Chen, who has been a member of Gallery North since 2014. “Water dances with sky, with wind and with light. Dancing water renders a breathtaking form that speaks to me and inspires me. Every dance has a story behind it — I hope the viewers can share a visual echo through my works.”

In addition to photography, Chen also paints in oil and acrylic. Her abstract paintings are a “collision of colors” meant to represent the place “where dreams and memories linger.”

Though there won’t be an opening reception because of COVID-19, Chen is scheduled to be at the gallery for a meet-and-greet from 2 to 5 p.m. on May 1 and again from 5 to 8 p.m. May 20.

A native of China, Chen was raised to value academics over art. But it didn’t stop her from collecting books on famous painters, including Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Gustav Klimt and Claude Monet.

See “Dancing Water” in Silena Wei Chen’s “Chasing Reflections” exhibition.

See “Dancing Water” in Silena Wei Chen’s “Chasing Reflections” exhibition.

She picked up digital photography as a hobby in 2000. When she got bored of the point-and-shoot approach, she started editing her images with Adobe’s Lightroom software. It didn’t take her long to realize that she could make her photos look like paintings.

But it wasn’t until she joined Gallery North that Chen picked up a paintbrush. (Her hometown is Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang, China’s northernmost province.)

Chen holds a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Arizona. She has worked as a software engineer and architect, but she’s taking a break from her career to focus on her artwork.

In addition to Gallery North, Chen has shown her work at the Edmonds Arts Festival, Center on Contemporary Art in Seattle, Kirkland Summerfest, Studio 103 in Seattle, Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor, Shoreline Arts Festival and the Asia Pacific Cultural Center in Tacoma.

Among her awards, Chen has received special recognition in the All Photography and All Women art competitions, as well as a first place award in fine art from the Photographic Society of America.

“Silena’s photography can best be described as ‘otherworldly’ or ‘ethereal,’” said Leah Welch, a spokeswoman for the gallery. “When viewing her work, one feels a sense of calm, as if entering a wonderful dream.”

Welch, who has been a member of Gallery North for six years, is inspired by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest to paint in pastels, acrylic and oil. Sometimes Welch will trade her paint brush for a kitchen utensil or use just her fingers.

Welch said she is excited to see Chen’s latest paintings — as the Seattleite has been saving their reveal for the solo show.

“Her paintings have been abstract with a lot of movement,” Welch said. “Her paintings flow, keeping your eye moving across the canvas.”

Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; sbruestle@heraldnet.com; @sarabruestle.

If you go

See photos and paintings by Silena Wei Chen in the solo exhibition “Chasing Reflections” 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 1-31 at Gallery North, 401 Main St., Edmonds. Though there won’t be an opening reception, you can meet Chen from 2 to 5 p.m. on May 1 or from 5 to 8 p.m. on May 20. Call 425-774-0946 or go to www.gallerynorthedmonds.com for more information.

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