Aramis O. Hamer calls it making a mess.
It’s a big, beautiful, mesmerizing mess.
She uses acrylics, mirrors and sometimes spray paint to create strong color contrasts, prisms and exaggerated subject matter to stretch the boundaries of surrealism.
It’s as simple as it is complicated.
Her first solo show, “O: Gemini Trying to Balance the Poles,” opened this week at Edmonds Community College and is up through March 16.
“When people ask me what I paint, I tell them I paint a lot of cosmic queens inspired by black girl magic, divine femininity, hip-hop music as well as higher consciousness and being self-actualized,” Hamer said. “This show stems from a spiritual exploration that I was on.”
This is the first time the 27-year-old’s work has been shown in Snohomish County.
The Shoreline resident’s paintings have been part of exhibits at Museum of Pop Culture, Paramount Theater, Martyr Sauce Gallery and Columbia City Gallery. Many of her designs can be found throughout Seattle, including at Jimi Hendrix Park.
A turning point in her career was the iconic purple goddess mural she did in 2016 for KEXP 90.3 FM radio station at Seattle Center.
“It was a big break for me,” she said.
Hamer used to be a nurse. A year ago, she left the medical field to pursue art as her career. “It took time to gather up the courage,” said Hamer, who has a studio in Belltown.
She also had to learn the business side of art.
“I went to professional development courses and workshops,” she said. “I went on YouTube and learned how to market myself. I Googled a lot.”
A Chicago native, Hamer moved to Washington four years ago with her then-boyfriend and now-husband Andy. In college she studied nursing, but never lost her love for art.
“I’ve been creating as long as I can remember, but I started painting in high school. My art instructor introduced us to acrylics. When I started using paints, I didn’t like it at all. I was beyond frustrated. I couldn’t figure out how to blend, what colors to use. I was used to pencil and colored pencils, which takes a lot more fine work skills,” she said.
“With painting it’s a lot more free form where you can splash paint around, throw it and it kind of takes on a life of its own. That was something I wasn’t used to. I had to learn how to let things go, literally in my life as well as in my creative process. I feel like I’m still learning.”
It takes her four days to four weeks to do a painting.
Six works are on display at the EdCC gallery. Four are paintings.
“One interactive installation is called ‘Dear Self’ where I am encouraging participants to write love notes to themselves,” she said. “They can tell their past self something, their present self or future self anything. From this perspective of infinite possibility, what would they tell themself?”
The exhibit is sponsored by the Edmonds Arts Festival Board, Edmonds Community College Library, Visual Arts department and Center for Student Engagement and Leadership.
Where: The Edmonds Community College gallery is on the third floor of Lynnwood Hall, 20000 68th Ave. W, Lynnwood.
When: Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays and 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Learn more: http://aohamer.com.