Salt Lake City Weekly, by Gavin Sheehan, November 20, 2016
A look into his photography exhibit at God Hates Robots this month.
The cold has finally settled it, but it matters little, as hundreds of people poured into the galleries of SLC to check out the latest art on display for Salt Lake Gallery Stroll. This month seemed to have more galleries on display than we’ve seen in a while, many of which will continue these shows through Christmas (but more on that next month). For November, I made my way to the west end of town for a look at the latest photography exhibition from Russel Daniels. His current show, “Blossom As A Rose,” will be on display at God Hates Robots through Dec. 30, free admission. Today we chat with Daniels about his photography career and the art on display, along with some pictures from Friday night.
Gavin: Hey Russel! First thing, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Russel: Hi Gavin. I was born in the suburbs of Salt Lake City. I am 42 years old. I use a few trades to keep my bills paid and fund my documentary photography projects. I have also been a house painter, wedding photographer, photojournalist, darkroom printer, photo educator, furniture refinisher and photo lab aid. I loved Boy Scouts, I made Life rank. I rode horses in a 4-H club. I stopped doing all that at puberty. Around the same time, I left the Mormon church. My ancestors were Mormon immigrants and Native Americans. My great-great-great grandpa went to jail with Joseph Smith, and my great-great grandma was kidnapped from her Navaho family and sold into slavery. I’m a Western frontier mutt.
What first got you interested in photography growing up?
In my childhood home, my parents owned a copy of the Edward Curtis photography book Portraits from North American Indian Life. That book had a huge impact on me without me knowing it. As a preteen, I was taken aback by Curtis’ photos; I remember being moved by the history and the texture and emotion of his portraits of Native American tribes. At that time I didn’t understand the act of photography, and it wasn’t until high school when I found the darkroom and my brother loaned me his 35mm camera that I began to understand. I was drawn to how you could record memories, moments, places and faces on film, and the process of using chemicals to develop and print the negatives.