Art from the Baroque period is known for its exquisite compositions and ethereal use of light. While it may seem as if oil paints are the only medium that can achieve this aesthetic, visual artist Christy Lee Rogers proves that underwater photography can be just as powerful in her dynamic series, Muses.
Featuring swirls of intertwined figures and flowing drapery, each striking photograph looks like a 17th-century painting come to life. Specifically, Muses borrows traits from Baroque masters, including Caravaggio’s contrasts between light and shadow, Gentileschi’s focus on movement, and Rubens’ rich color palette. Unlike the work of these artists, however, Rogers’ scenes don’t take place in opulent interiors or mythological landscapes. Instead, they’re set entirely underwater.
Each photo featured in Muses was shot at night in an illuminated pool. This unique setup gives the photographs their soft, brushstroke-like quality and allows Rogers to literally bathe her subjects in light as they twist and tumble through the water.
This concept of free-floating was inspired by events in Rogers’ own life. After experiencing multiple losses in a short period of time, she decided she needed to fully dive in to her practice—a decision that eventually sparked the series. “Any day could be my last, and I knew I would not forgive myself if I didn’t do everything I was capable of doing now,” she told PHOTOFAIRS. “So this was at the core of Muses; the inspiration that was pushing me forward.”
Christy Lee Rogers’ striking underwater photography series, Muses, evokes the drama and dynamism of Baroque paintings.
Due to the effects of the water, the photographs look like they are rendered in oil paints.
Some even look like abstract details of brushwork.
Rogers achieves this aesthetic by shooting in swimming pools at night.
This is responsible for the underwater photos’ eye-catching, luminous aesthetic.