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updated: 10/29/2012 10:56 AM

Swiss photographer focuses on homeland at West Chicago's Gallery 200

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  • This beautiful Swiss scene by photographer Britta Renwick is titled "Butterballs," also the name of the flowers in the image, and recreates a favorite photograph taken by her father when she was young.

      This beautiful Swiss scene by photographer Britta Renwick is titled "Butterballs," also the name of the flowers in the image, and recreates a favorite photograph taken by her father when she was young.
    Britta Renwick

 
Krista Coltrin

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, to Swiss born photographer Britta Renwick, that includes everything from the sweeping vistas of the Swiss Alps to a sweet bowl of strawberry ice cream, and everything in between. She interprets "Switzerland, and Other Beautiful Things…" through an exhibit of photography and hand-crafted jewelry at Gallery 200, 200 Main Street, West Chicago on display from Nov. 1-25, 2012.

Renwick was raised in a creative environment and surrounded by the pristine beauty of the Swiss Alps and Lake Lucerne in Lucerne, Switzerland. Her passion for photography began when her parents presented her with a camera at the age of 5 and today her exhibits are filled with an array of breathtaking photographs of her native homeland.

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With her family still living in Switzerland, Renwick, along with her husband and children, make annual trips home a priority. Each summer they spend four to five weeks immersed in the Swiss culture. Renwick's native language, Swiss-German, is a dialect found only in one region of Switzerland and she has spoken this language with her children since their birth. Said Renwick, "I work hard for the money to buy airfare for my family to fly to Switzerland each year. It's important for me to teach my children about their culture."

Although Renwick finds beauty in all things, many of her photographs are taken during these return visits home. Her work as an administrator for the Swiss Machine Tool Society has not only kept her in close contact with her countrymen, but she has also been able to use her images in creating marketing collateral for the society, such as the current membership directory. Twice annually, she coordinates and attends meetings in the Midwest and at the Swiss Embassy in Washington D.C., where she works with owners of companies with a direct interest in the sales, distribution and servicing of machine tools and accessories.

Renwick's enthusiasm for sharing her photography has prompted her to create a variety of items for sale on her website that are both useful and budget conscious. For example, framing and matting a large photograph can be very costly and she has found that many people are unable to afford the expense within the current economic environment. "I have found that 24" x 36" posters are affordable and give people an opportunity to have a big statement on their wall without spending a lot of money, especially since poster frames are also inexpensive," said Renwick. Additional items can be viewed at www.BrittasPhotography.com.

Her ability to work from home has allowed her the flexibility to spend time cultivating her sons' artistic talents. She also works within their school district as both a crossing guard and lunch supervisor. During these hectic days, Renwick looked to her creative outlets as a way to relieve stress and has now added jewelry making to her artistic portfolio. Said Renwick, "Photography is what I love, but I can't go out on a rainy day and take pictures. That's why photography and jewelry making are such a good combination."

Building on that concept, Renwick has organized a series of jewelry making classes at Gallery 200 as part of a "girl's night out" initiative. "Women don't do enough for fun -- we're always busy. Let's go out, have fun and wear our new jewelry creations out to dinner at a local business afterward," said Renwick.

Three classes are currently being offered including Bracelets on November 9, Crimp Bead Necklace on November 16, and Hoop Necklace on November 23, 2012. Each class is held on Friday evening at 7:00 p.m. at a cost between $20 and $25 and includes all supplies. Designs will incorporate the latest styles Renwick spotted at bead stores in Switzerland this past summer. Interested persons can register at Gallery 200 or online at www.Gallery200.org.

Renwick offers a personal "tour" of her homeland during a free Opening Reception of art on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012 from 6 to 9 p.m. The theme continues with Swiss chocolate and other treats from Switzerland available for tasting. Sons Sean and Alec will also be available to discuss their contributions of drawings and crafts to the exhibit. Along with her jewelry, additional photographic items include cards, placemats, bookmarks and reusable tote bags. Throughout the exhibit, 11- by 14-inch poster prints will be available for immediate purchase and all other sized poster prints can be ordered for delivery.

Gallery 200 is a cultural initiative supported by the City of West Chicago and the West Chicago Cultural Arts Commission, and is one more reason West Chicago was named an Illinois Arts Friendly Community in 2007. Gallery 200 is open Thursday and Friday from 12:00 - 8:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. For more information, including a complete list of current art classes, call (630) 293-9550 or visit www.gallery200.org.

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