It’s a bit of a surprise that geographic maps and whales pair so well together in an art piece, but that’s exactly the case with Jolene Brink and Linds Sanders’ new art exhibit “Water Maps,” opening Dec. 1 at E3 Convergence Gallery. Combining sea creatures, a variety of maps and splashes of color, Brink and Sanders have created pieces that both dazzle and intrigue, capturing a distinctive approach to art.

Brink and Sanders have been developing the exhibit since February. The two scored their exhibit venue location a month later and have been developing pieces for it ever since, creating a total of 15 pieces each.

“I thought to myself, ‘I like maps and Linds likes whales so we should bring those together in some way,’” Brink said.

Brink received her MFA in poetry in May 2016 at the University of Montana where she became interested in historical maps and geology.

She uses several different historical maps from around the world and lays them on top of each other to create a transparency using wax and paper. Brink said that layers are the most common element between her work and Sanders’.

“I want to have as many layers as possible in my art,” Brink said. “When I’m layering, the transparency and illegibility of the words on my piece is really interesting to me.”

One of the biggest influences on Brink’s work is the writing of poet Dan Beachy-Quick.

“His exploration of environmental themes in his poetry has really inspired me,” she said.

While Brink uses mainly raw materials such as maps and documents, Sanders uses paint, ceramics, clay and even beeswax in her pieces.

Sanders graduated from UM with a journalism degree but spent most of her time in the art school.

“I was in the art school so much that people began to think I was getting my BFA there,” she said.

Sanders is putting together several coral reef pieces made with ceramic material and painting jellyfish and whales over various writing samples laid on wood panels. She will also be selling homemade necklaces and various, small art pieces at the opening reception.

“I wanted to make something people can bring home with them that would be affordable to the average college student,” Sanders said.

Sanders said that art’s accessibility is always her biggest priority.

“I hope people will enjoy the exhibit but also feel like they can place themselves there in the art piece,” she said.

Sanders has long pictured whales over Montana landscapes and wanted to bring that to her art pieces somehow.

“I snorkel in Montana lakes often and I’ve always hoped that I’ll discover a whale in the water someday,” she said.

Brink said she would have never used sea materials in her pieces but was influenced by Sanders to incorporate them into her art.

“I want my art to make people be in awe the same way history and geography makes me be in awe,” Brink said.

Sanders said she has also been influenced by Brink’s work, adding multiple layers to her own material. Sanders uses historical documents and maps layered throughout each other on wood panels and paints sea creatures on top.

“I splash water on top to give the piece texture and make streams of color look more like rivers,” Sanders said.

Sanders’ travels have largely influenced her art, citing tropical islands as a visual element. She hopes to keep finding the joy in discovering herself through her art.

Brink’s transparent map pieces and Sanders’ sea creature-filled pieces make for a beautiful and effective pairing that’s perfect for any arts fan looking for something different and unlike anything done before.

“Water Maps” will open with a reception at the E3 Convergence Gallery on Friday, Dec. 1 from 5 to 9 p.m. The event will feature live music from Butter Behemoth.