When the Hyde Museum proposed the Creative Challenge, I set out looking at the painting “White” by Grace Hartigan, finding many metaphors to our current situation with COVID-19.
Researching Hartigan’s painting, I encountered the myth of the Greek god Apollo falling in love with Coronis, a beautiful Thessalian princess. Apollo, knowing Coronis did not really care for him, commanded a white raven, to guard Coronis, who was pregnant with his child. Even though she knew she could not deceive the ‘God of Truth,’ and the bird was watching, she gave in to the advances of the merely mortal, Prince Ischys. When the raven squawked to Apollo of Coronis’ infidelity, he became enraged not at the princess but the bird. Why hadn’t his faithful messenger pecked out the prince’s eyes? Apollo flung a firey curse so furious the raven’s pure white feathers were scorched black — which is why there are no more white ravens. Then he killed Ischys and sent his sister, Artemis, with her deadly arrows to get rid of Coronis. Or, myths being myths, maybe he did it himself. Despite his ruthlessness, Apollo felt a pang of grief as he watched Coronis laid out on the pyre with flames roaring up, ready to consume her. At the last moment, he plucked his unborn son from Coronis’ womb and gave him to Chiron, a wise centaur who taught the boy the art of healing herbs. After that, Apollo became associated with healing through his son, Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing. Asclepius’ staff, the caduceus, became a symbol of healing.
‘Corvidae’ is a family of songbirds containing crows, ravens, jays, magpies, and others. In ordinary English, we call them the ‘crows’ but more technically, they are corvids. As her grey ashes rose into the sky, Coronis found her place among the stars as Corvus, the crow-shaped constellation. In the myth of Apollo and Coronis, the raven is immediately turned from white to black, with no mention of any grey or color. I noticed while cruising Facebook users can be so stern with judgment, their perceptions and belief systems, like myths, imply there is only room for black and white perception. Allowing the effect of grey or colors around the edges of knowledge, growth, change, stimulate diversity, and allow new growth. The outcome of this ‘only black and white mentality’ cancels diversity, closing paths to possibilities and new solutions
Like Grace Hartigan did in White, in the series Eclipse, I look at the evolution of a subject, black and white, and the greyness in-between that leads through to color. I seek to investigate the significance of social identity, discovering through the work ways to encompass and allow for tolerance through shades of difference, with a heart for healing hope.
We are on a precipice of change, and there is greyness with all its color in the eclipse between the black and white.
There are two more sculptures and 5 or so paintings that have not been photographed or edited that belong to this series – so come back and check it out on the fifteenth of the month!
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