Somewhere between sea monster and masterpiece.
My artist friend Lori Pond recently made a quick trek up north and came back with some astonishing images. Creatures from the deep sea, providing gestures, texture, and color that accomplished painters would kill to create.
Lori said she had a magical moment with a Cuttlefish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (Pic #1), when she cozied up to the glass — and he bellied up to the babe. He was less than 2-feet long, and that’s his eye dead center in the photo. Experts say these curiosities only live about 18 months, and they are described as “very emotional.” I am so taken by this close-up, with all its interesting patterns and visual gifts. Even his curvy black eye could pass for a Matisse paper cut-out.
Technically, Cuttlefish are not fish — they are marine animals of the order “Sepiida,” and belong to the class “Cephalopoda,” which includes squid, octopuses and nautiluses. They have eight arms, and they hold the record for fastest color change — shifting hue in an instant — given a perceived threat. They have amazing eyesight, and can shoot out ink; they have jet propulsion, stalk their prey sideways, and are master hunters. I think I’m in love.
The Blue Jellyfish Lori captured are just as beautiful, from an artistic standpoint. (Pic #2) They give me a sense of floating flowers with fresh young petals reaching out toward the sun. The Monterey Bay Aquarium says jellies are the biggest attraction for its two million visitors a year. And for those who can’t make it, they provide a 24/7 LIVE JELLY CAM.
Art inspired by nature is nothing new. Lori says she pays homage to iconic illustrator/biologist Ernst Haeckel with every shot she took. (You may recognize his style in Pic #7.) I think the beauty lies in the unexpected — the detail on a fin or a face, the neon lights emerging from a jelly’s belly like iridescent spaceships. Once again, whether she knows it or not, nature surrounds us — and supplies us — with an infinite source of creativity.
(Pic #2 and #3) Jellies at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photos by Lori Pond.