The Block Island Times

"Salty” Premieres at Déjà Vu

Jul 12, 2013
Courtesy of: Déjà Vu Gallery The photographs of islander Ayla Shade make their debut at Déjà Vu Gallery on Chapel Street beginning July 13.

Island daughter Ayla Shade makes her artistic debut at Déjà Vu Gallery with “Salty,” a photo essay of portraits, landscapes and metaphoric interpretations of coastal life.

The gifted 18-year-old photographer, who grew up in Maine and on Block Island, documents the mysterious appeal of the Atlantic — as well as the people who skirt its shores, living their lives according to the tide and wind direction.

“I found myself really intrigued by the cultural effect of geographic isolation when I was traveling in South America this winter,” Shade, a student at the College of the Atlantic in Maine, says. “I originally drew inspiration from old island salts, such as my grandfather, Freddie Finn, who is a lobsterman. Upon returning home from my travels, this inspiration rippled into a greater appreciation and awe of all things Block Island.”

Each and every photograph is significant in its contribution to the collection, but Shade says one piece in particular, a portrait of retired island nurse and philanthropist Mary D., is her favorite. “To me, she epitomizes the kindness and selfless generosity that makes this year-round community such a special place,” she says.

In “Salty,” Shade also strives to capture elements of contrast in the human experience — cultural, literal, figurative or abstract. In one such image, shot poignantly in black and white, a cherubic, freckled face leans in as a fresh-caught fish surrenders to the circle of life.

Each piece, Shade says, is designed to be self-evident, a micro-story that upholds the universality of photography. “Images change the world and have the power to shift perception,” she says, “whether they make you happy beyond explanation, sad, compassionate, angry or inspired.”

The public is invited to celebrate Shade’s opening night at Déjà Vu Gallery, located next door to Eli’s Restaurant on Chapel Street, on Saturday, July 13 from 5 to 7 p.m. with music and refreshments. The exhibition runs through July 26. For more information, visit

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