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‘Creatures from the Deep’ at BAM

  • Written by Deborah Stone

Paper_Lanterns
Paper Lanterns 2008; silver coated copper wire. Courtesy photo.
At first glance, you might think you’re in an undersea environment amid colorful jellyfish and corals.

Look closely, though, and you’ll see that the "creatures" suspended in air and swaying together are actually delicate pieces of art fabricated in small-gauge wire.

They’re the creation of artist Arline Fisch, a world-renowned jeweler, who pioneered the application of textile techniques in the art of jewelry making.

In 2008, the Racine Art Museum commissioned Fisch to bring her work to a grand scale.

Inspired by the museum’s proximity to the waters of Lake Michigan, Fisch employed her knitting and crocheting techniques to create "families" of jellyfish out of her signature color-coated copper wire.

The result was "Creatures from the Deep," a whimsical exhibit, now on display at Bellevue Arts Museum.

Each of the objects in the installation varies dramatically in form and color, suggesting different species of jellies and corals.

They are made from "magnet wire," a type of wire originally made for industrial use with wind armatures, transformers and motors.

Over the years, however, this material developed in a wide range of colors for use by artists.

It is the wire that gives Fisch’s creatures their vivid coloration and helps to cast them in an iridescent shimmer of light.

Surrounded by these life-size formations from the sea, visitors feel as if they have walked into an otherworldly, underwater milieu – one that dazzles in all hues of the rainbow.

The objects match their descriptive names, i.e. "Paper Lanterns," "Black Sea Nettle," "Lion’s Mane" and "Moon Jellies," and seem right at home in our watery Puget Sound environs.

"Creatures from the Deep" is a delightful sensory treat that captivates all ages.

Also new at BAM is "The Art of Discovery: The Northwest Art Collection of the Junior League of Seattle."

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the Junior League of Seattle’s Northwest Art Collection has focused on teaching concepts of art to King County school-age children since its inception.

For many years BAM has partnered with the Junior League on bringing the collection to Eastside schools, providing thousands of kids with the opportunity to experience the Northwest’s rich traditions of art and craft, while developing visual vocabulary and observations and critical thinking skills. The collection is comprised of over 70 paintings and sculptures, featuring some of the most influential artists of the region, including Dale Chihuly, William Cumming, Morris Graves, Fay Jones, Jacob Lawrence, Sherry Markovitz and Alden Mason.

"Creatures from the Deep" runs through October 11th. "The Art of Discovery: The Northwest Art Collection of the Junior League of Seattle," runs through Sept.19. For more information: (425) 519-0770 or www.bellevuearts.org.

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