Christina Hope’s ethereal photographs transport viewers to a timeless and serene underwater world. Her exquisite figure studies, bathed in shimmering waves of shadow and sunlight, offer glimpses of dreamlike realms inhabited by water angels. Elegant nudes reminiscent of Greco-Roman sculpture float and twist gracefully, veiled by diaphanous swaths of fabric, bouquets of flowers, and musical instruments.
An exhibition of work by the artist opened at Jacksonville Beach’s J. Johnson Gallery on November 13 and runs through January 21, 2016. Gallery owner Jennifer Johnson and director Bruce Dempsey worked closely with Hope’s husband, Robin Shepherd, to uncover and select images from the artist’s archives for the show. These photographs, many of which have not been seen by the public, comprise a body of spellbinding work spanning decades.
Christina Hope established her artistic career as a lauded commercial photographer whose images were used in national campaigns by brands such as Neutrogena, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster. She taught photography and design at Flagler College in the early eighties, around the time she dove into fine art photography. Although Hope captured both bodies of work with a camera, the creative process involved with her own photos was distinct from client-driven assignments. “I never know what will happen. I hold my breath, go under, and shoot lots of film,” she shared in a 1990 interview. “My other work in commercial photography is necessarily planned and carefully
controlled, but with myth art, I really just try to let go, to make contact with a kind of flow and freedom. It’s very different, but very exciting.”
Hope was an original member of Southlight, a collective of young Jacksonville photographers that held its first formal show in 1982. Her luminous images were turned into book covers and playbills and featured in publications such as ARTnews. Galleries in Atlanta, Chicago, New Orleans and New York represented the artist, and her acclaimed underwater series was exhibited throughout the country and as far as Europe, Asia, and South America.
Article written by Wesley Gibbon