Circus Train

Day-Riverside
tags: Art Exhibits

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  • Circus Train

Reception: Sep 22, 4pm

Artist Bio
Danielle Follett Chard is a documentary photographer from Morgan, Utah. Danielle attended Westminster College on a theater scholarship where she studied communication and photography. Her early work focused on the invention of stories and characters, but drastically changed after an experience photographing circus performers. Inspired by the vulnerability and realness she captured, Danielle began finding and photographing characters she encounters in her daily life. She is fascinated that her camera acts as a catalyst for brief, intense relationships with subjects who welcome her into their lives. Danielle lives and works in Salt Lake City with her husband, Marcos.

Artist Statement
It was nearly midnight. I was alone and found myself at the rail yards in Salt Lake City, holding only my camera. I was photographing the circus train, fascinated that this tradition so rooted in the past was still alive and breathing in our modern age. This spectacle, this life of lights and colors has a hidden, gritty side, and I was determined to capture it.

As I moved about the train framing my shots, several men appeared. Three Russian circus performers tumbled out the compartment door, laughing and smiling, desperately trying to flirt with the American girl who wandered into their home. That night, I fell in love.

I fell in love with the circus. I fell in love with the men. I fell in love with the people who, over the next three days, opened their lives in the most unbelievable way and allowed me into this hidden aspect of their existence. Most of all, I fell in love with an entirely new style of photography I had never before explored. Those men set me on a journey that would completely redefine my art.

In that encounter, I met a whole cast of characters who are very real but also deeply rooted in the fantasies we are all enraptured with. They embody the fantasy of running off to the circus, of putting on a new persona, of starting over and living a life of freedom.

They are life embodied.

But they are also deeply rooted in the harsh reality of circus life. Two-year contracts bind them to closet-sized rooms on a train. They’re lost in a foreign country unable to speak the language, performing the same show over and over again. They have left family and friends behind in an entirely different world.

They are completely alone.

Enraptured by the past and striving to create a sense of a world gone by, I had been making work that was stylized and fabricated. Now, rather than creating characters, I find them in my world and document their lives. Rather than creating experiences, I’m revealing them. Finally, for the first time, I’m showing life. I’m showing people. I’m showing reality.

I am telling their stories.

Location: Day-Riverside Branch

Contact Information: (801) 594-8632