Christine Chambers, 39, Dies; Her Photos Empowered Actors of Color

As a photographer and a playwright, she helped document the rise of a generation of theater artists who wanted to tell their own stories their own way.The photographer and playwright Christine Jean Chambers in an undated self-portrait.Credit…Christine Jean ChambersChristine Chambers, a photographer whose pictures of actors of color helped document the rise of a newly…

As a photographer and a playwright, she helped record the upward push of a technology of theater artists who sought after to inform their very own tales their very own method.

Credit score…Christine Jean Chambers

Christine Chambers, a photographer whose photos of actors of colour helped record the upward push of a newly energized black theater motion that emerged in New York a decade in the past, died on Dec. four in Ny. She was once 39.

Her sister, Essie Jane Chambers, mentioned she died at NewYork-Presbyterian Clinic from headaches of a lung an infection. She had additionally had lupus, a protracted illness of the immune device, since she was once 12.

Along with being a photographer, Ms. Chambers was once a playwright. The daughter of a white mom and black father, she ceaselessly explored subject matters of race and identification. She was once happy with being a lady of colour, her sister mentioned, but it surely was once being biracial that equipped the grist for her writing.

With an established involvement within the theater, she understood the intimate dynamics of the are living level and photographed loads of actors, incessantly throughout performances. In doing so, she captured the spirit of a brand new technology of theater artists who sought after to inform their very own tales in their very own techniques.

“She made us happy with who we have been and the place we got here from, and that’s what we have been seeking to specific onstage,” the playwright Kelley Girod, a detailed pal, mentioned in an interview.

“She helped us see ourselves within the act of saying ourselves,” mentioned Ms. Girod, who’s founder and government manufacturer of the Fireplace This Time Competition, which options the paintings of playwrights of colour.

Ms. Chambers was once commissioned to {photograph} theatrical productions at that pageant and at different theatrical fairs and venues.

During the last 8 years, she documented greater than 14 productions and different occasions at Nationwide Black Theater in Harlem, which exhibited her paintings. “She helped crystallize our emblem,” Jonathan McCrory, the theater’s creative director, mentioned in an interview. “She gave visible amplification to leading edge black storytelling.”

This autumn, Ms. Chambers undertook two initiatives for the Public Theater. She photographed the ingenious workforce, made up solely of girls of colour, for its revival of Ntozake Shange’s “For Coloured Ladies Who Have Regarded as Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf.” And she or he captured the all-black, all-female forged of “Measure for Measure,” produced by way of the Public Theater’s Cellular Unit, which traveled with the play to the town’s 5 boroughs.

Her paintings seemed in The New York Instances, The Washington Submit and The Los Angeles Instances, amongst different publications, in addition to in playbills.

Ms. Chambers started taking photos as a kid. By the point she was once in graduate college at Columbia College, she was once taking skilled head pictures of pals there and at Juilliard. She adopted them during the black theaters and theater fairs that experience develop into pipelines to tv, movie and Broadway for artists of colour as their careers — and hers — took off.

Amongst the ones she photographed have been the actresses Amber Grey (“Hadestown”), Samira Wiley (“Orange Is the New Black”), Teyonah Parris (Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq”), Amelia Workman (“Fefu and Her Pals”) and April Matthis (“Toni Stone”), in addition to the singer Martha Redbone and Jon Batiste, the bandleader on “The Overdue Display With Stephen Colbert.”

“She had a specific method of operating along with her topics, particularly with us, other folks of colour,” her sister mentioned. “It was once nurturing and empowering. Other people relied on her and cherished the way in which she made them appear and feel.”

In serving to her topics to middle themselves, Ms. Chambers would inform them: “Shut your eyes. Breathe in. Exhale. Take a look at me.”

Mr. McCrory, of Nationwide Black Theater, mentioned the hallmark of a Chambers {photograph} was once her skill to raise tangible parts — the individual’s eyes, the discharge of anxiety within the face, the usage of lights to show off bodily attributes — onto an intangible airplane. “She invited her topics to lean into their discomfort,” he mentioned, “and they might in finding it to be a loving area.”

Along with her portraits, Ms. Chambers appreciated to take photos open air. One in all her maximum notable side road scenes was once of the dancer Jayniece Carter doing an exuberant grand jeté bounce throughout a Ny side road amid the hustle and bustle of visitors.

Her pictures have been all of the extra exceptional as a result of lately her sickness took such a lot out of her. “Her fingers and joints have been stiff from arthritis,” her sister mentioned. “Even simply maintaining the digicam was once an effort.”

Ms. Chambers freely mentioned on social media what it was once love to are living with lupus. She advanced a big on-line following and bonded with others with continual sicknesses. As she wrote on Instagram in Would possibly, “Simply because we (ppl w/autoimmune) have invisible sicknesses does no longer imply we wish to make ourselves invisible.”

Christine Jean Chambers was once born on Sept. 8, 1980, in Northampton, Mass. Her father, John Walker Chambers, taught sociology, first on the College of Massachusetts, Amherst, after which at Greenfield Group School, additionally in Massachusetts. He later changed into a social employee. Her mom, Molly (Pratt) Chambers, was once a therapist and social employee.

Along with her sister, Ms. Chambers is survived by way of her folks and her brother, John Chambers.

At Wilbraham and Monson Academy, a boarding college in Massachusetts, she was once a member of the Academy Repertory Corporate and Academy Gamers and seemed in productions of performs as numerous as “Cabaret” and “The Trojan Girls.” She graduated in 1999.

She won her bachelor’s level in English from the College of Virginia in 2004 and studied for her grasp’s of excellent arts in playwriting at Columbia.

During the last decade, she wrote a number of performs that explored what it intended to be biracial.

“Such a lot of her identification was once about residing on this in-between global, the place she wasn’t black and wasn’t white,” Ms. Girod mentioned. “That area in between was once vital to her; it’s the gap that outlined who she was once.”

Her performs, staged at small theaters in New York, come with “Part Brothers,” a few guy who turns into executor of his father’s property and meets his two half of brothers for the primary time, and “The Everlasting Go back,” a few black couple inspecting their failed courting.

In her play “One Quarter,” a multiethnic girl, Sarah, considers what her courting may were like with a daughter she had misplaced when she had a miscarriage. With a half-black mom and a white father, that daughter would were one-quarter black.

“What if no person sees her?” Sarah asks, apprehensive that her daughter’s blackness could be decreased. “What if she seems at me and will’t see herself?”

She concludes, “What if my daughter comes into this global and I nonetheless really feel by myself in it?”