MANSFIELD -- Braxton Daniels III calls his new photo gallery "Atypical."
Those who come to view his display, which opened Saturday at the Mansfield Art Gallery, will recognize the typical excellence in the 25-year-old man's work.
Using largely black-and-white images he recorded over a two-year time, Daniels said he wanted to offer something different, something a bit more experimental.
"I usually have the bright colors and nice sunsets, all the visually pleasing photos. And I kind of wanted to go to a different side, a little bit of a darker side, show what I'm capable of doing," said Daniels, who began his photography efforts just five years ago.
Standing in the REACH Gallery, a smaller space on the foundation floor of the art center, Daniels said Saturday he wanted his 14 images to offer a different expression and also tell a story.
"I just wanted to produce something that is not really seen from me and pushed me just a little bit," he said.
Two of the most compelling images are of his grandmother, Sheron Wilson, whose death at age 69 in December 2020 helped to inspire his current display.
"She was absolutely my best friend. Her death was a tough loss for me. It put me into a dark little corner. I think that's what pushed me to do this kind of work.
"Everyone's not always happy, everyone's not always in a peachy mood. And you know, a lot of people don't know how to show that. So I have a way of showing it and it's through my art," Daniels said.
The photos show Daniels' rapidly developing eye for detail. The outdoor scenes also display the patience required in order to catch the lighting he desired.
Looking at one such photo, Daniels offered a peek behind his lens.
"Someone told me the moon moves itself every five minutes. So I had to wait until that got to its exact point before I hit my shutter," he said. "A minute later, two minutes later, it would have been a complete different photo.
"Time is time. Time is everything. When it comes to photography, I can't manipulate it. I can't manage it. I can't do anything. I just have to work with what I got and the light, all that I have, gives me no control over my environment in any way," he said.
"So that's why a lot of these photos are incredible to me because I can't help what's behind. I can't help what the sky, that double cloud pattern look like. I can't help the water. I can't help the atmosphere at all. So it's just, I have to take what I got and use it somehow," Daniels said.
His photo work started as just a college class. It quickly grew into more.
"I've always been an art major, but photography had been outside of my skill set, something I hadn't tapped into. I started taking photos and I got the feel for it.
"But I reached a low point in my life and that's when I started to use it as a form of escape. I would go out and take pictures all night long. It came a very therapeutic tool for me. That's why it's now so much more than just taking photos for me," he said.
"It's a healthy form of expression. People can drink, do drugs, etc. This is my addiction in a sense," Daniels said.
Daniels has already had an impact on the cultural growth of Downtown Mansfield through his photography, often partnering with surrounding companies and organizations.
His work has earned him many awards, including The Ohio State University-Mansfield’s Art Area 2018 Book Award. He is also a board member of the North End Community Improvement Collaborative.
The photo display at the Mansfield Art Center, 700 Marion Ave., is Daniels' first solo gallery.
"To have my own solo exhibition like this is a huge, huge deal," he said. "This building is beautiful. It has history and they just built onto it. To have a moment here, for a seven-week period, is just an honor."
The gallery is the first of several from local artists planned this year at the Mansfield Art Center.
“The REACH Gallery is designed to support local artists and give the community an opportunity to see first-hand the wealth of talent that we have in Mansfield through small solo exhibitions," said Susan Duncan Gentille, the art center's marketing/development director.
"In our mission to be an all-inclusive community art center we believe we need to start in Mansfield and continue to reach for opportunities to give local artists recognition and exposure," she said.
Following Daniels will be Jane Johnson (April 3 to May 15), E.D. Jasbeck (May 29 to July 10), James Fleeson (July 24 to Sept. 4) and Gibby Kain (Sept. 18 to Nov. 6).
Mansfield Art Center hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. It's closed on Mondays.
For more information on upcoming exhibitions and classes, call the art center at 419-756-1700 and/or visit the website at mansfieldartcenter.org.
The 2021 sponsors for the REACH Gallery exhibitions are Richland Source and Westfield Bank.