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Trans Canadian photographer part of unique Chicago event
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2014-12-03

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Initially, the focus of Dale M. Reid's photography was related to landscapes ( maritime, urban and seascapes ), along with floral studies and still life. During the past four or five years, her subject material has switched to floral studies and still life shot in the studio.

In the still-life category, her recent series is the "Oyster Mushroom."

Due to the shapes and textures of the oyster mushroom, these images are more abstract and interpretative, she said. "I also shoot pears and the feel of those images tend to be whimsical, such as 'pears dancing in the rain,'" and more.

Reid, a transwoman who lives in Toronto, will bring her work to the Windy City for the 14th annual One of a Kind Show and Sale Chicago, set for Dec. 4-7 at the Merchandise Mart. Reid joins more than 600 artists from across North America to showcase their imaginative, handmade creations.

"At this year's show, I will have floral studies, oyster mushrooms and pear images. I will be featuring a mini series of five black calla lilies. In addition, one of my images has been selected to be featured in the Fine Art Gallery," Reid said. "The Chicago event is very well attended and I have had very good interaction with visitors to the show. I view the show [as] giving me access to a large qualified market to develop a foot hold in Chicago. As part of my business plan, I view Chicago as an important market for my artwork.

"It is an honor to be featured at the One of a Kind Show."

Reid's artwork is created using a medium format Mamiya camera and photography with a fine grain black-and-white negative film, she said. "In the darkroom, I can spend many hours to bring out the feeling and essence of what I viewed. Using dodging and burning techniques, I hand print each photograph using black & white chemistry on a museum-quality fiber-based paper. The photographs have a depth and crispness and each picture within the edition is unique as I cannot dodge and burn each print the same time and chemical temperatures can vary.

"To create a unique perspective and life in my artwork, I combine different elements, [such as] shadows, clouds, textures and lines, with lighting. Outside the studio, I use available lighting and carefully select the time of the day to shoot my subject to utilize the sun to create my statement. Where lighting is limited, such as an interior industrial site, I use a long exposure time to capture the dramatic feel as it comes into sharp focus.

"In the studio, I experiment with the intensity and the number of light sources to create my image. I favor a black background to shoot my floral studies to bring out the artistic expression of the flower. Despite the harshness of the black background, through the use of light including selective dodging and burning in the darkroom, I create sensuality and softness in the picture. For my still life images, I experiment with different presentations to create whimsical images."

Reid's passion for photography is intertwined in her personal life; she's been married to Pauline since 1982. The two had a chance meeting in late 1977 and started dating in early 1978.

Pauline has been battling multiple sclerosis since 1985 and, since 2006, has been living in a chronic care hospital.

"I started to look at life differently [since 1985] and with a new appreciation of [life's] fragility. I [began] looking through a different set of eyes and developed a new appreciation of my surroundings," Reid said.

"Until 1999, I viewed photography as a hobby. In 1999, I started to look at photography as an art form. I took an introductory photography course at Ryerson University. At that time, people were saying that I had an eye for photography. This course allowed me to work in the darkroom as well as gave me presentation skills. With that I decided that being a fine art photographer would be an excellent second career choice. Also, I had an objective that I wanted to retire when I reached 55 which would allow me to spend more time with my partner. I started to put together a plan to transition from the business world to the art world."

She took an early retirement in March 2004 after 25 years in the business world, and it's been a seamless transition to being a fine art photographer, she said.

Reid's personal transition dates back to the late 1990s, when she went out at nights and daytime shopping trips.

She started to come out to selective people in 2003, "and I received acceptance," she said.

In 2004, Reid "started to present myself as a woman at selective shows," she said. "I never had problems with visitors to the show or fellow exhibitors."

Also in 2004, Reid created a series of pictures called "The Mystery Girl Series"—and Reid was the "mystery girl."

"It allowed me to start coming out without anyone knowing," she said.

In 2005, Reid did most of her exhibitions as a woman, she said.

In 2006, she started to travel outside the province as a woman to present her artwork, "and I never had a problem," she said.

In 2007, she came to the United States as a woman for the first time. "I have never had a problem with either the U.S. or Canadian Border Patrol staff," she said. "My documents show 'M' for male and I clearly travel as a woman. In fact one trip to the U.S. last year, the first comment from the US Border Patrol staff was 'Are you famous?' my reply was, 'I will be!'

Since late 2012, Pauline's mother and extended family knows that Reid is a woman. "Pauline's mother has never said anything to me. I think they know that I look after Pauline and that's what counts," Reid said. "The staff at the chronic care hospital where Pauline lives … they are not concerned [with Reid's identity]. In fact, they like my clothes and footwear and want it for themselves."

Overall, Reid said her transition "went well." She rated it a "seven out of 10."

"I never had any serious confrontations with people; [they] accept me," Reid said. "I believe a big part of this is the confidence that I have shown. As I gained more confidence, I moved from the community to interact with those outside the community.

"Today, I am a confident woman; I know who I am; and I am comfortable in my own skin. I feel that by interacting with people in everyday life has worked in gaining acceptance and showing people that I am no different than anyone else."

More about the One of a Kind Show is at www.oneofakindshowchicago.com/ .


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