In art as in literature, water is rich in symbolism. Its meaning meanders from womb-like security to biblical rebirth, a sense of movement and change to foreboding and danger. "English is loaded with rich swimming vocabulary that acts as a constant metaphor for how one might go through life, be it diving, floating, drowning, wading or surfing." Bradford points out.
In the work of Nigerian-born, Philadelphia-based artist ruby onyinye amanze, swimmeers, divers and pools are part of a symbolic visusual language that uses seven recurring motifs "as parts of a poem", building collage-like compositions on paper. While her diving figures relate to a "continuous fixation with flying". she says that the swimmers denote her desire "to be inside water".
"I want to enter water like a space, a room, a world quite differeny than land," onyinyechiexplains. "Land has always felt far too restrictive for me. Too real somehow. But water is different. Air too. I'm a transcontinental immigrant. I flew accross waters, so in my world view that in-between space was heightened and became a site of magic, a converter or transmitter."