Delicate, translucent, at one with its environment in a way that few complex animals are, the jellyfish fascinates me. The contradiction it embodies is intriguing: the very parts that make it graceful and beautiful – its tentacles – are also deadly. I am reminded of a quote from Lady Macbeth: “Look the gentle flower, but be the serpent under it.”
With their partial transparency, the smooth, gently rippling surfaces of the bell-like bodies seem not so much objects as simply boundaries enclosing something secret that is beautiful, complex, and rarely seen. The paintings reveal their mysteries through frozen instants in their seemingly endless motion. They are creatures not usually seen by people, and only by seeing them still, being able to linger over details that are usually only fleetingly glimpsed if at all, are their wonders revealed. I find a fascinating beauty in their undulation, and love the challenge of trying to convey it through a non-moving image.
The jellies speak to the beautiful, mesmerizing dangers we face. They may seem insubstantial, but they can be paralyzing.
Interesting note: On Election Day, 2016, the Monterey Bay Aquarium broadcast online a live feed of one of their jellyfish tanks all day. Distracting, calming, mesmerizing, ominous?