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Artistic invocation
Christina Bray uses brushstrokes to summon historical ghosts
Krog Street: "The Krog Street tunnel is a very heavily-traveled public street. I just chose to paint it with no traffic in it, or people on the pedestrian walkways. The reason I like graffiti is that it tends to get painted in these areas that would normally be very drab and dilapidated. It really enlivens the space and brings a vibrancy to it."

Atlanta artist Christina Bray's paintings are still-lifes that tell stories - not in words, not in the emotion or pain in someone's eyes (there are no people on her canvases), but in an eerily invoked memory of place.

On view through Sept. 9 at the Armstrong Atlantic State University Fine Arts Gallery, Bray's Street Journal: An Exhibition of Documentary Paintings chronicles what the artist likes to call kind of photojournalism.

She photographs places that, for her, have some sort of spiritual historical aura. Then she paints - in acrylics - from the photos.

"For me, photography is just a completely separate artistic process than painting," Bray, 40, explains. "And it's something that I really don't have much training in. I go out there like a tourist, doing little snapshots, and then I certainly embellish when I do the paintings. I'll take parts of the photograph that I think need maybe a little bit more contrast or what have you, and sort of exaggerate that in the painting."

Bray, who holds Master's degrees in both Fine Arts and Theological Studies, focuses on places and objects that she feels might well have "traumatic histories."

Some of the paintings depict the abandoned asylum at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville. "I'm not trying to give people the creeps - if I was, I could really exaggerate," she explains. "And I've seen paintings that people have made of mental hospitals, with crazy colors, stuff that to me looked like Halloween decorations. But I don't think it needs that. I think it's creepy enough just naturally."

Other pieces include graffiti-covered buildings she's run across in Atlanta's deeply urban areas.

"I've always liked abandoned buildings," Brays says. "I've always thought there was something beautiful about the sort of decay, and the spookiness of them."

Street Journal: An Exhibition of Documentary Paintings

Where: AASU Fine Arts Gallery, 11935 Abercorn St.

When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, through Sept. 9

Admission: Free

Gallery reception with Christina Bray: At noon Aug. 31

Artist's website: