I was introduced to Tony Maher’s work by my friend Julia Schlosser, who is working on putting together a photography exhibition about pet animals. While at first Maher’s Mermaids series reminded me of Seth Casteel’s famous Underwater Dogs, Mermaids is not so comedic as it is mysterious, ethereal, and even off-putting. Large black dogs are clearly playing and swimming in a pool, but in some images the pool reads as a rough ocean, and the perspective–from below–is one we certainly don’t expect of “life with pets” snapshots. My favorite of the images are the ones in which black animal-like shapes are moving toward the camera with unknown intentions, or a silhouette of a creature seems wrapped up in white water and bubbles, its direction and orientation unidentified.
From the artist’s statement: These images float in a sort of limbo between real and unreal. It is the suggested reality that gives the viewer something to grasp onto to try and make some kind of a connection with the subject. As playful as the images may seem at first, they still emote a sinister sense of place. They are taken from a vantage point not normal to most people, forced under water where we struggle to make a connection. The title refers to the mythological creatures that many a sailor fell in love with. Only the sailor could never really reach the beautiful maiden, and was left instead with a sense of wonder and unattainability. Stories tell of sailors falling overboard trying to reach a mermaid, only to end up struggling beneath the waves.
Visit artist's site: tonymaher.net