Thursday January 31, 2013

WILMINGTON -- Bartleby’s Books hosts its annual Valentine show, "Hearts in Nature" by local photographer Nicki Steel.

In addition to her interest in the Vermont landscape, animal and gardens, Steel is often inspired to pursue a specific photographic theme. Ten years ago that inspiration led her to create the Steeples in Vermont poster. Just a few years ago she discovered patterns created by lichen on stone, inspiring a heart shaped imaged titled, "I’m Lichen You." Next, a heart-shaped tree trunk gouge lead to the creation of her photograph, "Wood You Love Me?"

In the months following Tropical Storm Irene, Steel found she wasn’t drawn to photographing landscapes. Smaller natural impressions caught her eye. Diminutive plants or clumps of snow and intriguingly shaped bits of wood got her exploring the outdoors in a different way. Steel took to heart the advice of Wilmington wildlife photographer, Bill Pool, who advised, "Don’t forget to look down at your feet. Some of the most beautiful things are right there."

Steel’s collection, "Hearts in Nature" is continually growing. As the artist explains, "This series really combines things that I treasure -- Love ... love of nature and love of photography and, while perfect for Valentine’s Day, these photos appeal to the senses any time of year."

Matters of the heart continue to motivate her work. Steel was recently inspired by a group of women who combined a series of her images in collage form for the birthday of a close friend who had been battling heart disease.

Stee’s show will be on display at Bartleby’s Books, 17 West Main St., during February. For information, call 802-464-5425, e-mail bartbook@sover.net, or visit myvermontbookstore.com.