Los Gatos photo show goes ‘Behind Closed Doors’

The Art Museum of Los Gatos presents an unusual photo show called “Behind Closed Doors,” which takes viewers into the operating room.

The exhibit, on display through July 28, features works by Shelley D. Spray, a Los Gatos resident who is one of the few professional photographers in the world specializing in fine art surgical photography.

Spray’s own potential “brush with death” was the impetus for beginning work in the field. She says, “Knowing I am a breast cancer survivor seems important when I share how I began photographing. It was through this experience that I found the courage to try something new as I resigned from my job and moved to Paris, France to study photography. I know people dream about doing something crazy like this, but after the diagnosis, I had a fresh look on life and realized I’d better start living it.”

In October 2000, when she was 36, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She survived with a small, ½;-inch scar which she calls her “scar of life.”

Although the school she attended in France specialized in fashion photography, Spray — who had worked in the surgical industry and is now a marketing officer for a medical company — decided to take her camera into the operating room.

She says, “As I clicked away, I realized surgical photography was a way for me to describe the pain I had experienced and the strength I had found. It also became a way of bringing awareness to unique individuals on the medical team focused on saving a patient’s life.”

Spray’s images — of procedures including brain and open heart surgery — aren’t bloody, but have a curious beauty. Exhibited in France and Switzerland as well as the Los Gatos show, they have been compared to works by 17th-century French artist Georges de La Tour, who is known for paintings of figures caught in shadows of candlelight.

Spray will appear at a “meet the artist” event from 1 to 3 p.m. July 14.

— Staff report

artsentertainmentOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The Medical Examiner's Office van on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
San Francisco’s 2020 overdose deaths soar 59 percent to 699

Fatal drug overdoses surged by nearly 59 percent in San Francisco last… Continue reading

Police Commissioner John Hamasaki questions Chief Bill Scott at City Hall on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFPD should probe whether officers joined Capitol raid, commissioners say

Chief unaware of any members participating in insurrection

Homeless people's tents can be seen on Golden Gate Avenue in the Tenderloin on Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 16, 2020. (Photo by Ekevara Kitpowsong/S.F. Examiner)
Statewide business tax could bring new funds to combat homelessness

San Francisco could get more than $100 million a year for housing, rental assistance, shelter beds

The Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco (a mural by artist Jamie Treacy is pictued) has a lineup of free online programming including activities for youngsters scheduled for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18. (Courtesy Demetri Broxton/Museum of the African Diaspora)
Stanford, Museum of the African Diaspora host MLK Day activities

Online offerings include films, music, discussion

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi presides the US House of Representatives vote on the impeachment of US President Donald Trump at the US Capitol, January 13, 2021, in Washington, DC. - The Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives on January 13 opened debate on a historic second impeachment of President Donald Trump over his supporters' attack of the Capitol that left five dead. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)
House votes 232-197 to impeach Trump a second time

Focus shifts to Senate, where McConnell has signaled he may not stand by president

Most Read