Scottsdale Public Art

Temporary Art

DEEP TIME: Imagining the Ancient Inland Sea

Scottsdale Public Art and Scottsdale Arts Education & Outreach presents DEEP TIME: Imagining the Ancient Inland Sea, an immersive, family-friendly experience running May 26–Aug. 24 at the Gallery @ The Library, Scottsdale Civic Center.


DEEP TIME takes visitors on a journey to the prehistoric ocean that once covered the Sonoran Desert, as imagined through the eyes of Tucson-based artists Lex Gjurasic and Rachel Slick. This sculpted environment uses color, pattern, light, texture and experimental materials to create an ocean-bottom experience of being surrounded by fanciful sea life, including kelp towers, coral reefs, an underwater garden, a bioluminescent tunnel and a large sea beast.


Gjurasic said she has reoccurring dreams about seeking and collecting. Her interactions with the desert follow a similar pattern as she finds herself consistently looking for treasures.


“Once I looked down to find a shark tooth fossil at my feet,” she said. “In creating DEEP TIME, I was able to draw inspiration from my curiosity for the desert's clandestine past and indulge my imagination in what it still might hold.”


Slick’s inspiration for DEEP TIME, is connected to a family story about desert mermaids. “Over the years, the story has changed with the teller, but the themes of metamorphosis and magical reality remain a constant,” she said. “I have wanted to create an installation about the ancient inland sea and that magical reality of the desert for quite some time, and I am very happy it’s finally happening.”


The exhibition also incorporates anthropology, paleontology and geology alongside folktales, legends and myths, providing opportunities for children and adults to learn about the creatures who lived in the prehistoric ocean through a mixture of science, fantasy and imagination. A variety of free activities throughout the summer will enhance the experience with creative workshops and visits from scientific experts.


Free Events and Workshops


Opening Reception — Saturday, May 26, 6:30–8:30 p.m. Slick will take young visitors on a visual journey within the installation from 7–8 p.m. that evening, using an illustrated treasure map. The first 30 participants will receive a signed, special-edition map.


DEEP TIME Slime — Friday, June 8, 10:30 a.m.–noon. Learn to make three different types of sea slime. Participants can even take the slime home with them. For ages 8 and older.


Create a Mystical Sea Creature — Saturday, June 23, 1–3 p.m. Use recycled materials to create your own fantasy sea creature with artist Tania Radda. All ages.


Super Corals! — Saturday, July 14, 1–2 p.m. Scientists are learning how corals can withstand challenging environmental conditions, like warming seas. Learn how “super corals” may save the reefs in this lecture by oceanographer Franklin Lane.


Meet a Paleontologist! — Friday, July 27, 2–3 p.m. Discover Arizona’s past as an ancient sea and meet paleontologist David Gilette in this family-friend discussion and workshop, where participants paint replicas of dinosaur teeth to take home.


Closing Reception and Performance — Saturday, Aug. 11, 6:30–8:30 p.m.  Celebrate DEEP TIME with the artists, light refreshments and a performance by Lano, composer of the exhibit’s soundtrack.


About the Artists:


Lex Gjurasic has shown her work across the United States, from Seattle to Pensacola. Her art can be found as part of the Woman’s Building permanent collection at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Among her public art experiences are site-specific installations for music festivals. Learn more about Lex Gjuriasic here.


Rachel Slick is represented by galleries in Scottsdale, Albuquerque and Santa Fe and has shown her work throughout the nation, from Los Angeles to Chicago. Among her public art commissions are murals in Tucson, interpretive signs in California and a sculpture in New York.  Learn more about Rachel Slick. 

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