Stillness Between Waves

Artist River Meschi talks about the meaning and inspiration behind her exquisite digital paintings, on view at Tacoma Ocean Fest 2023 from June 2 until August.

“Stillness Between Waves” is a reflection of the liminal spaces between worlds, where opposites meet in a tidal dance of ebb and flow. It is an exploration of the deep sea within us all, where ancient stories and symbols are woven into the fabric of our being and can reveal deeper truths about the human experience we share. 

I depict water as my Baltic ancestors understood it: a sacred force that tirelessly gives and restores life, that is powerful enough to hold the full weight of our worries and our sorrow. The ocean is often linked with both magic and sadness in mythology, and throughout the exhibition, there is a braided theme of healing and tears.“The Fall of Jurate,” for example, depicts the Lithuanian myth of the goddess of the sea, whose amber palace was destroyed by the gods because she fell in love with a human and brought him to her world. Her tears of amber are the product of deep love, and are considered both healing and sacred as they wash up on the Baltic shore to this day. We are all made up of water more than anything else, and our internal waters are saline like the sea. The depths of our sadness is measured by the depths of our love, and when we cry, we reveal our waters. This is also perhaps a way in which water holds us in our hardest moments, and this is mainly what I am trying to depict: how water holds us in our entirety. 

Many of the paintings here tell stories with water as both a backdrop and a threshold between worlds. “Sink or Swim” illustrates feelings of tension between identities, but also the tenderness we can bring by simply bearing compassionate witness to each other’s struggles.  “Agua Infinita” features selkies: mythical beings who can shapeshift between their identities as both women and seals by changing their skin. The painting asks us: when they take off their skin, are they empty, or are they infinite?