Marine art images have long held a deep symbolic meaning in the human psyche. Depictions of water, ships, and seafaring life are often used as metaphors for various aspects of the human condition. Whether it’s a calm beach we escape to in our daydreams, or feeling like a lost ship tossing in the waves of a violent storm, we all share a sense of connection to the sea. Perhaps this is why marine art continues to fascinate so many of us.
The American Society of Marine Artists’ 15th National Exhibition is visual proof that marine art is not only surviving—it’s thriving. The exhibition is on display at the Mobile Museum of Art in Mobile, AL, through April 8. From there the show travels west to museums in Texas, California, and Oregon through July 2013.
The history of marine art in the U.S. goes back to artists’ depictions of the first European voyages to America. Over the centuries, however, marine art has evolved and expanded in many ways. “Artists today are inspired as well to depict breezy seashores, stark lighthouses, rocky coasts, a still pond, or the denizens that inhabit the open ocean, and render them in every medium imaginable,” says Russ Kramer, president of the American Society of Marine Artists.
This year’s show is the most ambitious and comprehensive in the group’s history, and includes more than 120 works of painting, drawing, sculpture, and scrimshaw in a variety of mediums. “If you think contemporary marine art is just ‘a painted ship upon a painted ocean,’ you will be amazed by the range of works—abstract and representational too—inspiring, moving, thought-provoking,” Kramer says.
The featured works were juried from several hundred entries submitted by ASMA members and come from artists in nearly every state. Members participating in this year’s event include Paula Holtzclaw, Sydney Zentall, Austin Dwyer, Anne Brodie Hill, Mark Joseph Williams, Peter Egeli, and Lisa Egeli.
“The vision, talent and skill on display is not to be missed,” Kramer says. “The show represents our members’ best new works, encompassing a wide variety of inspirations, with depictions of everything from quiet coastal scenes to crashing breakers, working vessels and majestic yachts, sea creatures, America’s naval and maritime history, and much more.”
The society got its start in the mid-1970s, when a group of artists found themselves drawn together by their passion for sketching and painting ships and the sea. United by common pursuits and ideals, their informal get-togethers quickly grew, and the American Society of Marine Artists was founded in 1978. Today, the group is a 570-member nonprofit organization dedicated to recognizing and promoting marine art and maritime history and encouraging cooperation among artists, historians, academics, enthusiasts, and others involved in the field.
Many art forms become popular only to fade out when something new comes along. But artistic representations inspired by the sea, sea life, and seafaring can be found among the earliest works of human creativity, and Kramer believes strongly that marine art will survive and thrive for centuries to come. “Today, marine art is as vibrant as ever, energized anew with fresh visions from members of the American Society of Marine Artists,” he says.
For more information: 757.357.3785 or www.americansocietyofmarineartists.com.