Deep Time exhibit to explore prehistoric ocean over Sonoran Desert

(Submitted Photo)

The exhibit Deep Time: Imagining the Ancient Inland Sea is coming to the Gallery at The Library, 3839 N. Drinkwater Blvd. in Scottsdale, and will run from May 26 through Aug. 24.

Deep Time hopes to take visitors on a journey to the prehistoric ocean that once covered the Sonoran Desert, as imagined through the eyes of Tucson-based artists Lex Gjurasic and Rachel Slick, a press release states.

This sculpted environment uses color, pattern, light, texture and experimental materials to create an ocean-bottom experience of being surrounded by sea life, including kelp towers, coral reefs, an underwater garden, a bioluminescent tunnel and a large sea beast.

Ms. Gjurasic said she has reoccurring dreams about seeking and collecting. Her interactions with the desert follow a similar pattern as she finds herself consistently looking for treasures.

“Once I looked down to find a shark tooth fossil at my feet,” she said in a prepared statement. “In creating Deep Time, I was able to draw inspiration from my curiosity for the desert’s clandestine past and indulge my imagination in what it still might hold.”

Ms. Gjurasic has shown her work across the U.S. Her art can be found as part of the Woman’s Building permanent collection at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Among her public art experiences are site-specific installations for music festivals.

The two artists previously collaborated on the mural Sagrada Corazon de Tucson in Tucson, according to a press release.

Ms. Slick has had galleries in Scottsdale, Albuquerque and Santa Fe and has shown her work throughout the nation. Among her public art commissions are murals in Tucson, interpretive signs in California and a sculpture in New York.

She said her inspiration for Deep Time is connected to a family story about desert mermaids.

“Over the years, the story has changed with the teller, but the themes of metamorphosis and magical reality remain a constant,” she said in a prepared statement.

“I have wanted to create an installation about the ancient inland sea and that magical reality of the desert for quite some time, and I am very happy it’s finally happening.”

The exhibition also incorporates anthropology, paleontology and geology alongside folktales, legends and myths, providing opportunities for children and adults to learn about the creatures who lived in the prehistoric ocean through a mixture of science, fantasy and imagination. A variety of free activities throughout the summer will enhance the experience with creative workshops and visits from scientific experts.

The exhibition will open Saturday, May 26, with a reception from 6:30–8:30 p.m. Ms. Slick will take young visitors on a visual journey within the installation from 7–8 p.m. that evening, using an illustrated treasure map. The first 30 participants will receive a signed, special-edition map.

(Submitted Photo)

Other Deep Time events

Deep Time Slime — 10:30 a.m. to noon, Friday, June 8. Visitors can learn to make three different types of sea slime. Participants can even take the slime home with them. For ages 8 and older.

Create a Mystical Sea Creature — 1-3 p.m. Saturday, June 23. Visitors of all ages can use recycled materials to create their own fantasy sea creature with artist Tania Radda.

Super Corals — 1-2 p.m. Saturday, July 14. Scientists are learning how corals can withstand challenging environmental conditions, like warming seas. Visitors can learn how “super corals” may save the reefs in this lecture by oceanographer Franklin Lane.

Meet a Paleontologist — 2-3 p.m. Friday, July 27. Visitors can discover Arizona’s past as an ancient sea and meet paleontologist David Gilette in this family-friend discussion and workshop, where participants paint replicas of dinosaur teeth to take home.

Closing Reception and Performance — 6:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11. Visitors can interact with the artists, light refreshments and a performance by Lano, composer of the exhibit’s soundtrack.

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