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Tony Lewis

Photo Gallery

Guys and gals who wear glassesLocal painter focuses on the face — with spectacles

If you go

› What: “Selfies: Through the Looking Glasses: A View From Both Sides” exhibition

› When: 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday.

› Where: Chattanooga Eyecare Center, 1201 Market St.

› Admission: Free.

› Information: 423-468-3305.

For some, the ever-present tsunami of selfies on social media elicit an "ugh" of derision.

But for local painter Miki Boni, they provided an "aha" of inspiration.

"I was inspired by seeing my Facebook friends posting selfies in their glasses," says Boni. "Seeing through lenses can change one's perception of the world. So are glasses medical devices or face fashion?"

Not surprisingly, then, her most-recent project is titled "Selfies: Through the Looking Glasses: A View From Both Sides." The paintings focus on a group of her local friends, all of whom wear eyeglasses.

"I put out a call to friends asking for selfies in 'specs' to paint and received more than I could possibly use," says Boni, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., who began her career in Manhattan's East Village drawing street portraits.

Out of 100 responses, she selected the selfies of friends Ange Roth, Heidi Hefferlin, Susan Creswell, Ray Sines, Travis Roach, Cam Busch, Ange Roth, Kirsten Stingle, Tony Lewis, Mary Barnett, Katie Ward Knudson, Alison Morris and Jessica Bloodworth Doolittle and her son Colt.

"And I added my own selfie portrait to the mix," Boni says.

The project will be displayed in a "pop-up" exhibit on Thursday from 5:30-8 p.m. at Chattanooga Eyecare Center. Most of the models will be at the show.

Chattanooga painter Roth, one of the models featured in the paintings, works at Chattanooga Eyecare Center.

"The show is going to be a pop-up, meaning it will only be available for viewing that night," she says. "The show definitely portrays how people's identity can be tied to wearing glasses, whether it is for needed vision correction or sunglasses.

"Before Miki's debut of the series during the recent AVA Gallery Hop, she approached me to perhaps be a part of our fall open house at the office and I agreed it was a wonderful idea," Roth says. "As well as being an artist, I have been in the eyewear business for 12 years; it a natural blending of my worlds, which is exciting."

For artists, faces are an always-interesting subject and Boni says she wanted the "facescapes" to by stylized and sassy.

"Who sees the human face correctly — the photographer, the mirror or the painter?" says Boni, quoting Pablo Picasso.

"As an artist, I have something new to say every time I create a painting, or if I have a lot to say, a whole series," Boni says. "I love the freedom this provides — freedom of content, freedom of style, freedom to keep reinventing my imagery. Each time I dip my brush into what I feel, rather than what I see, my art will continue to evolve."

Contact Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396.

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