Anna Meyers. Photo by Andy Coughlan

The weird creature seems to reach out to the passing viewer, its tendrils attracting us and invited us in for a closer look. The form seems to move slowly through space, gently teasing us.

“Odilon on repeat” by Anna Myers. Courtesy photo

Anna Myers exhibition, “Umbra,” at The Art Studio, Inc.’s Maudée Carron gallery through Feb. 23 is an enticing show. The coupling of delicate drawings and soft sculptures is endlessly fascinating.

Myers’ organic creatures bend and twist, layer-upon-layer to create an other-worldly environment. Sometimes the creatures in the drawings look like aliens from space with stars in the background. Sometimes they look like creatures hidden in the deep oceans illuminated only by the faintest specks of light.

It is also hard not to feel a little kinship with the fungus cordyceps that are all the rage with the hit HBO series “The Last of Us,” although Myers’ work does not have the ominous tension of the TV show.

Myers graduated from Lamar University with a degree in printmaking, and the attention to detail in her drawings is evident. The subtle shifts of tones in the predominantly monochrome charcoal and ink images are delicate, yet the creatures themselves seem to wear a protective shell. They are fragile yet strong.

“Odilon in Purple” presents a creature that is so twisted it forms a tight ball. The tight coils turn back on themselves while a small protuberance reaches out to a distant star. Among the spirals it seems a large eye looks out at the viewer, searchingly. It is looking at us as much as we are looking at it.

“Vor” by Anna Myers. Courtesy photo

In “Odilon on Repeat,” the creature has unfurled, anchored to the ground it appears to float and dance in space. The sureness of the drawing truly makes the objects some alive, as if we are discovering them in some distant universe.

The drawings are interspersed with soft sculpted figures that float off the wall. The twisted shapes appear weightless. Myers started making the sculptures in 2017 and they are an extension of the drawings.

Myers “draws” with wire. Fittingly, the images come to her organically, each piece growing out of the last. The sculptures consist of a torch-soldered 9-gauge galvanized wire armature wrapped in strips of quilt batting with a skin of pieces of 4-way stretch PVC fabric with synthetic, stretch costume fabric accents. They are all hand stitched. The hair is ethically sourced Merino wool that is pulled apart and hooked through the sewn-in hardware cloth panels one strand at a time. It is, Myers says, “insanely time consuming.” And it shows.

In a 2017 interview, Myers said she is a normal person who yearns for the paranormal or the weird.

“I’m going to have so many of these hoarded images and sculptures, and I’m going to have them in a room, and I’m going to pretend I’m in an H.P. Lovecraft story and I’m going into a different dimension and it’s fabulous,” she said.

An installation shot of Anna Myers’ “Umbra,” on display at The Art Studio, Inc. through Feb. 23. Photo by Andy Coughlan

The definition of “Umbra” is the darkest inner region of shadow from a total eclipse. One can imagine a gallery at night with minimal lighting that allows us to walk among the creatures, to immerse ourselves in their world. Maybe that is Myers’ next evolutionary next step.

The artist has carefully constructed a bridge between reality and fantasy. While Myers says she is working on a “Lovecraftian cosmic horror nightmare realm,” all I can think is how much I enjoy visiting her world. There is joy in the nightmare, perhaps. At least for the weird among us.

Anna Myer’s “Umbra” is on display through Feb. 23. The Art Studio, Inc. is located at 720 Franklin St. in downtown Beaumont.

This story first ran in the Feb. 18, 2023 Beaumont Enterprise.

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