Abstract photographer Olga Merrill opens her first solo show “Spirits and Secrets” at the Green Lion Gallery in Bath on Friday, June 21. It will be on display through July 14. There will be an opening reception at the Green Lion, 104 Front Street in downtown Bath, from 4 - 7 pm on Friday, June 21, coinciding with Bath’s first Art Walk of 2019.
Merrill says, seemingly playfully, that she hardly recognizes herself as a photographer. Instead, she says, she uses photography as a tool - like an instrument to make music or a brush for painting - to create an image of her vision, with a dreamy and indirect relationship to external reality. She does this in varying styles. Some images are essentially representative photography of the world around her that nevertheless dissolve into the wonder of abstract pattern, while others are complex manipulations of the ordinary visual world that use intentional camera movement, multiple exposures, and a carefully chosen color palette to reflect her vision, dreams and feelings - and resonate with ours.
One of her favorite quotes comes from photographer Diane Arbus: “A picture is a secret about a secret, the more it tells you the less you know.”
The show includes work from two series of her images, entitled “Harbor” and “Urban Spirit.” The “Harbor” images vividly evoke what she calls her “fairy tale visions of boats.” fantasies of sailing away to shores only imagined, of running before the wind forever onward. These images do indeed come from time spent around Maine’s harbors. The “Urban Spirit” images suggest the cities of our dreams through Olga’s eyes, beginning with a glimpse into some of the places she has seen. Night scenes by both painters and photographers helped inspire the Urban Spirit series. Many of her city scapes are done in twilight, at the onset of what she describes as the “provocative and mysterious darkness.” Both series draw from Olga’s love of travel and her urge to push on to yet another horizon, as well as the ways her imagination transforms the places she finds herself.
Olga Merrill was born in the far east of Russia, and earned university degrees in both economics and law. She moved to Maine in 2013, and is now based in Brunswick. In 2015 she began her career in photography, quickly pursuing the abstraction that became her style. The results have been spectacular. Her work is published in several digital photography magazines in the U.S. and in Europe. Olga’s work has been exhibited, and won awards, in galleries in Maine, Minnesota, Malta, Italy, Hungary and Greece.