From the series “Synergy”

Shelly Hanan is a fine art photographer based in Northern California.

I have been photographing jellyfish (or ‘jellies’) for over 10 years. Their grace and movement fascinate me. Jellies pulse, they almost seem to breathe. They move with such dreamlike precision, it’s almost as if they could be flying. I picture them soaring through the galaxies, making the connection between water and sky. I know that in reality they are very simple creatures. But, they are the only marine animal that can survive in the polluted ‘dead zones’ of the pacific; and they are found in every ocean on earth. So, with magical realism, they have become explorers, navigating territories that we may need to turn to ourselves.

I start with my images of the jellies, and combine them with photographs from the Hubble Telescope. I look for the potential within the jelly, and search for an image from space where I believe it could thrive. I see them as electric, protective, exploring, on fire… and match them with nebulas, galaxies and star clusters.

This conceptual approach is greatly influenced by the early 20th century artists who experimented with surrealism and abstraction, as well as the avant-garde photographers of the early 1920’s and 30’s. Their placement of ordinary objects into extraordinary spaces helped me to visualize this series.

By superimposing jellies with nebulas, I create a place where the whole becomes other than the sum of its parts.