If you've ever imagined Phoenix becoming totally submerged in water, then you and Abbey Messmer have something in common. The local artist says living in the desert didn't prevent her from finding inspiration for her current series of aquatic artwork in "Submerged" currently on view at Eye Lounge.
"There is a certain span, heading south on SR-51 from about Shea to Glendale, that just screams ocean floor," she says. "I can imagine all the sea flora and fauna hanging out down there."
Messmer has been inspired by sea life for a while, but she says the underwater camera was really the key for this exhibition.
She took her first image with an underwater camera in 2010 at public pool in Texas, and continued photographing with water through spring of this year. Some of the images she captured are used in collage works and others are used to guide her painting practice.
"I'm painting figures and water that slosh and move around the canvas in unexpected ways," she says. "So the goal was to reference the photos on the important parts but to also let intuition guide me for the distortion."
The effects of this distortion add a strong component of surrealism to Messmer's work in this show. "I think water and dreams are very similar in the way you have this story or this thing that can become completely wild and mutated...or hyperfocused and out-of-focus at the same time," Messmer says. "Water is a beautiful dreamy world for me and full of unexpected surprises."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
In "Submerged" Messmer explores water and its properties in a wide variety of sizes and media (oil painting, collage, photography and installation) giving the viewer access to the concepts of the show from multiple avenues.
And according Messmer, the timing couldn't be better. "I was thrilled to have this show about water open on the Summer Solstice and hang during the hottest weather of our year," she says. "It's refreshing, and I think people are really digging it."
"Submerged" is on view at Eye Lounge through July 14, with a reception this First Friday, July 5 from 6 to 9 p.m.. For more information about the show, visit the Eye Lounge webpage. To see more of the artist's work, check out Messmer's website.