An Underwater Wonderland

By Louise Irvine

We have all fantasized about following Alice down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass. Now we can see her dancing underwater thanks to Suzanne Barton’s amazing interpretations of Chelsea Rousso’s wearable glass Wonderland costumes. Suzanne and Chelsea met at a recent WMODA event and realized that there were synergies in their love for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Chelsea has long had the ambition to present her glass art underwater and Suzanne is an experienced underwater photographer who creates beautiful works of art from her unique perspective under the surface.

The Pool of Tears

Shortly after tumbling down the rabbit hole, Alice wept floods of tears in frustration at being unable to open the tiny door into the enticing Wonderland garden. As she grew and shrank from nine feet tall to just a few inches, she fell up to her chin in saltwater. Initially, she thought she had fallen into the sea but then realized she might drown in her own tears. As she swam about wishing she hadn’t cried so much, she met lots of curious creatures including the Mouse and the Dodo. Now Suzanne and Chelsea have introduced new characters to this watery wonderland but fortunately, there were no tears and everybody had lots of fun at the underwater photoshoot.

Mythical Maidens

Suzanne is well known at WMODA for her Mythical Maidens underwater art which includes ballerinas and mermaids who dance for her under the water. She lets her imagination follow the energy and flow of their fantasies and then embellishes her photographs with acrylics and inks to create lyrical works of art. In Suzanne’s words, “The grace and fluidity of movement, the soothing quiet and calm beneath the surface, along with the weightless suspension as my subject floated to the surface left me transformed.”

Through the Looking Glass

Suzanne first explored the idea of Alice’s adventures underwater a few years ago and her image of Alice swimming through the looking glass was highly commended at art shows in Miami and New York. One of her award-winning hand-embellished aluminum images is now on display in the Through the Looking Glass exhibition at WMODA. Her model was Whitney Fair who is an underwater performer in the MeduSirena Swimshow at The Wreck Bar at the B Ocean Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. Whitney jumped at the chance of reprising her Alice role for Suzanne and Chelsea’s extraordinary Wonderland collaboration underwater. In Whitney’s words, “I loved wearing glass because it was unique and out of the ordinary. I found it helpful for shooting underwater because it weighted me down in the saline pool. Buoyancy is tricky in saline pools so the glass corset was awesome to work with.”

The Mad Hatters

The underwater shoot proved to be more challenging for Sam Fray who played the Mad Hatter. Sam is a successful fashion model who has worked with Suzanne on previous occasions. However, this time it proved harder to hold his breath for long periods as his giant hat kept filling up with water and forcing him up to the surface. Despite these challenges, Suzanne captured some great images of Sam in his flamboyant Hatter costume encrusted with glass jewels. Chelsea’s vision of Wonderland is even more absurd with not just one but two Mad Hatters who jostled for attention with their zany antics underwater. Alena Alberani modeled the Mad Hattress and her experience as a scuba diver prepared for her new challenge of modeling underwater in one of Chelsea’s glasskinis.

Underwater Fine Art

Suzanne’s underwater sessions can last for hours, followed by extensive hours spent in careful editing. Only the perfect image will do for Suzanne who is an experienced professional artist. She shows her work at juried exhibitions and galleries around the country and has garnered numerous awards. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines commissioned two of Suzanne's Underwater Fine Art pieces for their Harmony of the Seas which has introduced her work to an international audience. We are excited to be showing Suzanne’s art in three exhibitions at WMODA including her dancers in Fire and Soul, her mermaids in Fantastique and her Alice series in Through the Looking Glass.

The Light Fantastik

As well as diving underwater, Suzanne also explores the darkness and captures the movement of light trails. She creates art by following the energy of color and design which affects our psychology and therefore our physiology. She was mesmerized, calmed, and invigorated by the images in her Let There Be Light Fine Art series which took her to a space of “Space No Time.” She began morphing these images in Amazing Circles and a new series was born which she calls The Light Fantastik. In Suzanne’s words, “I fell further down the rabbit hole as a collaborative artist at WMODA working on the Through the Looking Glass/Wonderland event with Chelsea Rousso. To my surprise, I created the Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit, and Mad Hatter light energies in which I was obviously channeling 'Believe the Impossible!' I hope these images bring joy to the senses and leave you transported as well!"

We look forward to seeing more of Suzanne's work on January 22 at our Believe the Impossible event.

Suzanne Barton's work is for sale at WMODA,

Dancing Underwater – Suzanne Barton

Wearable Glass in Wonderland