Serene. Hypnotic. Otherworldly. Like swimmers in an
enchanted bay, the graceful bathers in Ed Freeman's photographs appear
more mermaid than human. Michelle Hamilton's glass bowls are multi-colored
Sea Anemones and Medusas whose delicate radial tendrils float upwards
as if underwater. The juxtaposition between Freeman's photographs
and Hamilton's glass is like a twilight skinny dip in Hanalei.
Twenty-four of Freeman's digital prints and eighteen
of Hamiliton's glass vessels are on view
Ed Freeman can't swim. He nonetheless
dons goggles and straps on a twenty pound weight belt before plunging
into the deep end of a Los Angeles pool, underwater camera in hand.
The models, as many as nine at a time, take a deep breath and dive
down. There are no snorkels or oxygen tanks, and no artificial lights;
just a bunch of committed, open-minded individuals, some of whom happen
to be very strong swimmers. This is fortunate for the photographer,
who occasionally has to be rescued.
After the shoot comes the protracted task of computer
retouching the photographs. Underwater photography produces notoriously
low quality images that require hours of optimization.
Besides using the computer for repair, Freeman uses
it creatively: Bodies are removed or added, repositioned and bent.
Sometimes the same person appears three times in the same picture.
The artists asserts:
"I'm not a journalist and these aren't documentary
pictures. They're about the freedom and sensuality of being suspended
in a weightless environment. We all have a profound connection to
this primordial state; I've tried to capture some of that feeling
in these images."
Michelle Hamilton uses glass to investigate
the radial symmetry found in Sea Anemone, aquatic Medusa, and Sea
Fans. Chards of glass are fused together in a web-like pattern and
the molten "web" is slumped into a concave shape to form
a bowl-like vessel. Of particular interest to the artist is the formation
of shadows and negative space created by the layering of multiple
vessels, which are stacked and balanced on top of one another. She
uses translucent and opaque colors to create additional loft and depth,
celebrating the alluring draw of glass. Sand blasted finishes create
the illusion of a new material that renders surfaces softer appearing
and more skin-like. Transparent foundations and pillars create the
illusion of floating off the table like the umbrella shaped body of
"My pieces are an investigation of the balance
between a vessel that holds a commodity and a vessel that holds a
story." ~Michelle Hamilton