exhibition slideshow

Aquatic Glass by Michelle Hamilton and
Underwater Nude Photography by Ed Freeman

On View
March 9 through May 18, 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013,
7:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.

Serene. Hypnotic. Otherworldly. Like swimmers in an enchanted bay, the graceful bathers in Ed Freeman's photographs appear more mermaid than human. Michelle Hamilton's glass bowls are multi-colored Sea Anemones and Medusas whose delicate radial tendrils float upwards as if underwater. The juxtaposition between Freeman's photographs and Hamilton's glass is like a twilight skinny dip in Hanalei.

Twenty-four of Freeman's digital prints and eighteen of Hamiliton's glass vessels are on view at PHD Gallery from March 9 through May 18, 2013, with a free public reception for the artists on Saturday, March 9, from 7:00 to 10:00 P.M.


Ed Freeman can't swim. He nonetheless dons goggles and straps on a twenty pound weight belt before plunging into the deep end of a Los Angeles pool, underwater camera in hand. The models, as many as nine at a time, take a deep breath and dive down. There are no snorkels or oxygen tanks, and no artificial lights; just a bunch of committed, open-minded individuals, some of whom happen to be very strong swimmers. This is fortunate for the photographer, who occasionally has to be rescued.

After the shoot comes the protracted task of computer retouching the photographs. Underwater photography produces notoriously low quality images that require hours of optimization.

Besides using the computer for repair, Freeman uses it creatively: Bodies are removed or added, repositioned and bent. Sometimes the same person appears three times in the same picture. The artists asserts:

"I'm not a journalist and these aren't documentary pictures. They're about the freedom and sensuality of being suspended in a weightless environment. We all have a profound connection to this primordial state; I've tried to capture some of that feeling in these images."

Michelle Hamilton uses glass to investigate the radial symmetry found in Sea Anemone, aquatic Medusa, and Sea Fans. Chards of glass are fused together in a web-like pattern and the molten "web" is slumped into a concave shape to form a bowl-like vessel. Of particular interest to the artist is the formation of shadows and negative space created by the layering of multiple vessels, which are stacked and balanced on top of one another. She uses translucent and opaque colors to create additional loft and depth, celebrating the alluring draw of glass. Sand blasted finishes create the illusion of a new material that renders surfaces softer appearing and more skin-like. Transparent foundations and pillars create the illusion of floating off the table like the umbrella shaped body of a Medusa.

"My pieces are an investigation of the balance between a vessel that holds a commodity and a vessel that holds a story." ~Michelle Hamilton

About the artists...

Ed Freeman was born and raised near Boston and majored in French and Russian at Oberlin College in Ohio. After college, he had a career as a performing musician, arranger and record producer. Highlights of his music career include working as a road manager on the 1966 Beatles' tour, arranging and conducting a touring orchestra for Gregg Allman of the Allman Brothers, arranging Carly Simon's debut album and arranging and producing Don McLean's iconic "American Pie."

Moving to California in 1977, he gravitated towards film scoring, computer music, consulting and teaching. In 1989, he set up a studio in downtown Los Angeles and began a gradual transition to working full time as a photographer.

These days he works on commercial assignments, shoots stock for Getty Images and has an active career as a fine art photographer. His commercial clients include Agfa, New Line Cinema, Miller Beer, Sony Music, and Warner Bros. He teaches Photoshop at Santa Monica College and has given seminars at Julia Dean Photography Workshops and WPPI.

His computer-enhanced images have been featured in over a dozen one-man museum shows, scores of photography magazines, including Photo District News, Camera Arts, Rangefinder and Popular Photography, and countless general interest publications, art books, greeting cards, calendars and posters. Los Angeles Times Books released his first collection of landscape images, entitled "Desert Realty" in spring 2002; it was re-released by Chronicle Books five years later.

When he is not working, Freeman travels extensively (fifty countries and counting), plays piano, and is fighting a losing battle to learn Mandarin Chinese.

Michelle Hamilton's is a Chicago native who earned her BFA in Ceramics and Art Education at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and her MFA in ceramics at Washington University in St. Louis, MO. After college, she was introduced to glassblowing and has been enamored by the brilliance of glass ever since. She found the symbiotic nature of working in both clay and glass to be a natural point of convergence in conceptual design.

An instructor at Maryville University, Hamilton currently teaches ceramics. Her fervent dedication to her students is something in which she takes great pride. Hamilton has also taught ceramics and glass at Craft Alliance and her K-12 certification has allowed her to take her talents into schools.

As an entrepreneur, Hamilton has founded several small businesses as well as a successful corporate sales career in the architecture and design industry. Her keen business sense has fueled the success of her own two businesses: Zaximo Studios for her ceramics and glass collections and Sassy Fusion, an integrated approach to the creation of art for the non artist brought to students as a mobile studio.

Hamilton's work can be found in many corporate and private collections in Chicago, IL., Naples, FL. and St. Louis, MO. She is currently represented at the Edwardsville Art Center, St. Louis Artist's Guild, Craft Alliance and Jacoby Art Center. You may have see her work at San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts and PHD. Her work has been published in 500 Lark, Southern Living Magazine and in December 2012 an article was written in the St. Louis, Post Dispatch.

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