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Abbey Messmer: Pool Redux


Artist Statement

This unique site-specific piece, simply called Pool is an immersive environment that allows the viewer to experience the deep end of a pool without actually being in water. Messmer is touching on the process for her preceding works, paintings based on underwater photographs that use water as a lens to transform subjects and highlight atypical perspectives. For the 2015 exhibition, Messmer built a pool structure inside the gallery with sloped walls, a glowing light fixture and warmly lit horizon, a metal ladder, and a sunning deck. She also shot and edited an underwater film. Collaborating artist Mark Hughes spatially mapped and projected the video on the surface of the 3-D pool structure. The goal of this work is to allow the viewer to feel immediately “in” the piece. The experience begins as they walk in the door and find themselves in the deep end of a pool, submerged in moving water imagery and surrounded by aquatic sounds. For this show, the gallery and artist will identify a site for the remounting of the work between 2024 and 2026. Depending on space, the project can be part of a larger exhibition alongside paintings or presented alone.


Abbey Messmer’s art practice references the postmodern idea that there is no concrete reality. Messmer’s paintings are process-based works that begin with daytime dives in urban pools to photograph liquefied versions of the landscape including expansive skies, curvaceous horizons,corrupted human forms and emblematic props like ladders and umbrellas. Each dive is a meditative exercise - controlling the mind, eyes, and lungs. Selections from the photography eventual emerge on the canvas as small, medium and large-scale paintings. The work aims to echo the inevitable state of flux and absurdity of the human experience. Individuals are shaped and mutated by our physical environment from microbes to ozone. Families provide not only the genetic code but also patterns and mantras that are the foundation of daily decisions and emotional roots. As Americans, hundreds of marketing messages inform what we view as normal. Social media’s vivid scroll becomes more real than a lackluster day in the office. Technology allows us to be in one place mentally, while physically in another. The paintings mimic these soft forms and malleability of our existence. 



Abbey Messmer was born in Dallas, Texas and received a B.F.A. in Painting and Drawing from the University of North Texas in 2001. She currently lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona as a fine artist and she is also the programming director at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. In her current position at the Center she is the most proud of her work serving the community through cultural awarness programs and programming main stage events that champion diversity and community engagement. Her work in the theater is balanced by her painting practice in the studio. Highlights of Messmer's exhibitions include showing at the Phoenix Art Musuem, Mesa Arts Center, the Herberger Theater Center, the Shemer Art Center, Estrelle Mountina Community College, Monorchid and particiapting in a project called Art360 with hte Arizona Science Center where her work was animated and projected ontot he dome of the Dorrance Plantetarium. Messmer was a founding member of The Lodge, a member of the Pheonix Art Collective Eye Lounge from 2012-15 and a Forum Arts Grant recipient in 2015.


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