A lifelong Seymour resident who has successfully published a series of paranormal romance books has turned her creative interests and talents into a more visual experience.
Emma VonDielingen, known to her fans as Emma Shade, is the eye behind EVOND photography, an exhibit on display through Feb. 22 in the main gallery at the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts in Seymour.
Photography is not a new hobby for VonDielingen, as she recalls owning a 33mm camera as a child.
“I was always fascinated by photography,” she said. “As a teen, I filled my walls with pictures of friends, family and pets.”
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Later, she became interested in conceptual images and wanted to create her own but didn’t have the knowledge or means to, she said.
Her passion for the creative arts, both writing and photography, faded as she grew up and faced the demands and realities of being an adult.
“Life and responsibility came, and I lost that part of me,” she said.
In 2014, VonDielingen found herself without a job and decided to go back to school to pursue her creative interests. She enrolled at Ivy Tech Community College to study visual communications with a concentration in photography.
EVOND is her first public exhibit, and she’s glad it’s in her hometown, where she hopes to encourage others to take an interest in the arts and to visit the art center and maybe even take a class.”
“It felt surreal to see my work on the walls,” she said. “But everyone I’ve worked with there has been great, and I look forward to doing another exhibit in the future.”
With the arts often being overshadowed by math and language arts in schools, the art center is a beacon of hope for those needing more than academics, she said.
“Creativity and imagination can mold us into anything we long to be,” VonDielingen said. “Supporting our art center allows future programs to thrive in our community, allows a creative outlet to children and adults and supports artists in our community and beyond.”
VonDielingen’s photography, which includes fine art and conceptual images, beauty and fashion and senior portraits, is bold, unique and evocative.
It evokes the perception of “desire, intrigue and beauty,” she said. Her goal? “To use her camera to tell new stories and to open unexplored worlds, a place of curious individualism that hints at a sense of beauty,” she added.
She hopes by viewing her work, people become inspired to find and explore their own creative abilities.
“I want them to fall in love with photography and be encouraged to follow their passion by finding their own unique style,” she said.
This year, her goal is to create more conceptual art using models in distinctive and thought-provoking environments. She is also planning to do a series depicting phobias, but with a unique twist, she said.
Book cover photography is another direction she hopes to take her work. She aspires to create a niche in paranormal, urban fantasy and horror images to be used by authors to sell their own work.
Without the support of her college photography instructor, Jim Barnett, VonDielingen said she wouldn’t have developed her technical skills and eye for photography.
“He encouraged us to be creative and find our own unique flair,” she said. “Without him, I don’t think I would have found my own individual style.”
That style has included photos she has taken using ultraviolet light and paints to create an eerie but vibrant effect.
“I like to experiment with different lighting, colors and model poses,” she said. “Most people enjoy the black light images because they are so unique and eye catching.”
The inspiration for the ultraviolet light photography came from an underwater black light picture she saw while scrolling through images online.
“That image captivated me,” she said. “So, with the help of a few fellow photographers and an awesome instructor, we prepared for our first black light photo session.”
Black light photography may not be new, but VonDielingen wanted to use the technique in a different way.
“I wanted to create a unique paint scheme and a spin on fashion portraiture,” she said. “Some of my ideas come from inspiration of something I’ve seen, but a lot of ideas come straight out of my own crazy imagination.”
Other photographers that inspire her include Von Wong, Brooke Shaden and Lindsay Adler.
In the end, whether people like her work or not, she just wants them to feel something.
“I would like to evoke any emotion when people see my work for the first time, whether that emotion is good or bad,” she said.
What: Evond photography exhibit by Emma VonDielingen of Seymour
Where: Main gallery of Southern Indiana Center for the Arts, 2001 N. Ewing St., in Seymour
When: Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.
Cost: Admission to the gallery is free. Donations are accepted. Prints of VonDielingen’s work are available for purchase.