amanda jaffe

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turbulent ocean/serene places


"...for there is something about being in water that alters my mood, gets my thoughts going as nothing else can... Swimming gave me a sort of joy, a sense of well-being so extreme that it became at times a sort of ecstasy.”  – Oliver Sacks


Oliver Sacks writes of the soothing quality of water. In these pieces I have chosen to depict both that soothing power of water that Sacks describes as well as water's menacing side.


In my series Turbulent Ocean/Serene Places, I show small boats (kayak, canoe, life boat, panga, rowboat) being tossed in a choppy ocean. Each boat contains a place of solace that the one might reach through a hazardous journey. The tranquil spot is created in each boat with a variety of images including a beach, cornucopia of flowers, a pile of colorful dry leaves, calm water, a bouquet of flowers and soft grass. The boat's placid place is difficult to reach and the turbulent waves threaten the very existence of the boat.


Amidst the turbulence of life it is possible, though difficult to reach a calming place.


"Panga III" shows a fluctuating line between ocean and beach. This divide is symbolic of the border between the United States and Mexico. I am using the line between water and land to represent the place where cultures interact and mix. Where the ocean waves touch the beach and dampen the sand repeatedly creates an undulating and shifting line. Waves rush onto shore bringing with them bits of life from the ocean. There are shells and seaweed as well as evidence of humans like sea glass. All these objects brought to the beach by the ocean are representative of the bits of culture that Mexicans bring across the border to the US.


I have chosen a saturated intense blue for the churning water and very brightly colored flowers. The sand and beach grass by contrast are of muted tones. This contrast is suggestive of the bright colors that are often seen in Mexico and the muted tones represent the reserved nature of both the culture and colors most often seen farther north.


The panga is a boat that has been used to ferry Mexicans across the US border by way of the Pacific Ocean. Here the colorful boat is tossed by large waves and dumps its cargo of brightly colored flowers in the ocean. As the water flows to shore the swells diminish and the water becomes calm carrying with it the flowers.