The unmoored beauty of Amy Casey's "Adrift"


Adrift by Amy Casey
8"x10" ($24) | 11"x14" ($60) | 16"x20" ($240) | 24"x30" ($1200)


Post-midterms jitters, anyone? Same. Whether we’re riding a blue wave or not, we’re certainly surfacing for air after a surge of anxiety. Adrift, our newest edition from longtime 20x200 artist Amy Casey, manages to both sum up our state of mind and offer some solace, a self-reflective, tidal reprieve that can buoy us into the coming weeks. And not just because this painter’s brilliant, elaborate brushwork is a soul-nourishing feast for the eyes—sure, Adrift is awfully Good To Look At, but it’s got a mindful intensity that’ll make you take some much-needed space.

Based in Cleveland, Ohio, Casey has been working on an evolving series of cityscapes for years now, using elements of the places she spends time to create her urban environments. She often returns to the idea of the malleability of our modern world, its indefinitely unfolding uncertainties and how to contend with them. In Adrift, that uncertainty is conveyed through the idea of being lost at sea, her intricate blob of a cityscape bobbing in the distance. The visible buildings are exceptionally detailed, layered over each other in a strange askew arrangement—the kind of impossible architectural arrangement Casey is drawn to creating. They’re suggestive of a community, kept together despite (or perhaps because of) the changing currents.

Buildings like these may be a recurring theme in Casey's work, but in Adrift they break free from the superstructures of previous paintings, an unprecedented unhinging. This edition is an extension of her exploration of the unsettling sensation of finding yourself in the unknown, in a world you don’t recognize or can’t comprehend. So much of the visible plane is camouflaged by ocean—a search for stability in a landscape with no land. How do we stay afloat in a world that’s awash with change?

Helplessness, anxiety, wonder, the complex mishmash of emotions stirred up by watching the world take shape around you—Casey unpacks those powerful feelings in her paintings, and Adrift is no exception. As scary as all those familiar feelings can be, there is something comforting in the way she transforms her inner turmoil into an undeniably beautiful image. Confront those scary things, and they’ll lose some of their strength—that’s precisely what Casey is doing with this work, and what this work encourages us to do in turn. Though it sprang from the artist’s anxieties, there’s a sense of calm to be found in this edition.

What does it mean to be willingly “Adrift”? Unanchored, no aim in mind. Without stability and direction, yes, but also without an asphyxiating emphasis on control. Adrift is a reminder to roll with the punches, to lean into the unknown and accept there are things you cannot control, things that might be major stressors. What happens, Casey seems to ask, if you take pause to acknowledge your stressy feelings then let them float by? In this way, Adrift is also an exercise in awareness—for the artist in its creation, and for us in its appreciation. Casey has observed her anxieties and released them in this painting-meets-meditation. Looking at it, you might take a moment for observation of your own, noticing what’s on your mind without judgment and without getting swept up in it, taking a moment to return to the present. Call Adrift a manifestation of owning your crap, and finding some peace in the process.

Take a cue from our team: get some breathing space in Casey’s undulating ocean, and more importantly, a little perspective. We might all be a bit adrift, but there’s beauty to be found in going with the flow.

With art for everyone,
Jen bekman + Team 20x200

The 20x200 Blog

New release intros, studio tours, print picks curated by tastemakers and trailblazers, art world news + more!