The word “escapism” can have a negative meaning, suggesting that escapists are unhappy and unable to connect with the world around them. It sounds like a surreal concept, but in our every day lives, on social media for example, we find ways to divert from reality. Daniel Merriam’s recent exhibition at AFA Gallery challenges the notion that escapism is fundamentally negative. “It’s not a sin, it’s not a crime, it’s not a disease… You think of escapism as being denial. So a little bit of escapism is considered good – too much is not,” he shares. “Now You See Me: The Art of Escapism” is Merriam’s reflection on this idea.
Daniel Merriam, with AFA Gallery Owner Heidi Leigh.
Merriam finds a balance to creating a fantasy place where we can seek happiness. Where there is beauty, there are also elements of horror in his details; for example, cats are given human-like hands and demonic horns, and serene buildings overlook violent green seas. Escapism, for Merriam, is a mental diversion achieved in the process of painting his watercolors. We took a look at Merriam’s process recently, in our discussion with him about his sketches and stylistic influences. These touches of good and bad, which exist in life, are necessary to the image’s ability to transport us. The completed image then becomes a doorway for his audience to enter his imagination. Take a look at more photos from the exhibition below, courtesy of the artist and videographer, Michael Stever.
Underwritten by AFA NYC.