Walking on Water

Jelly side up

Painter Gwyneth Scally, 33, is accustomed to walking in two worlds. She has degrees in English literature and studio art. She’s a self-professed atheist who went to Catholic school. And she lives in the barren desert, despite her love of the sea. Raised by a scientific-minded English father and a Catholic Italian mother, Scally learned to think rationally while maintaining a respect for the elegant rituals of Catholicism. This early exposure to opposing viewpoints made her the ultimate mediator — someone with the vision to see both sides of an issue and bring them together through art.

What you don’t see
I was raised in Washington, D.C., and my family kept a sailboat docked on the nearby Chesapeake Bay. There is nothing like swimming in such dim water and feeling something soft and unseen brushing against your bare skin. You have no idea if it is seaweed, your own hair . . . or tentacles.

Seeing beauty in the beast
Jellyfish represent a duality. They are beautiful and menacing, fragile and dangerous. With the jellyfish sculptures, I make work that walks a fine line between beauty and disgust.

There’s no place like om
I traveled extensively through Tibet, documenting the murals in the temples of that country. I [listened] to the music I had with me on that trip while working on the “Jelly” pieces in order to help recapture the effect of those spaces on my sensibilities.

One life to live
I have no religious beliefs whatsoever. I understand that religion can provide comfort. But for me, the courageous and beautiful choice is to accept my biological and finite nature.

 
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