The Shadow Feminine
We live in a generation that does not fully acknowledge the female prowess. The Shadow Feminine is an exhibit that explores the darker aspects of certain female archetypes; the tyrant, the wounded, and those cursed by privilege. I was driven to manifest these women into material form in order to create an atmosphere of reflection and evoke awareness of the viewer’s own shadow. These paintings are meant to represent the powerful duality within a woman’s wild heart.
I have always characterized Medusa as the “innocent victim”. Although Medusa is commonly regarded as a monster, her head is found as a symbol of protection throughout history. Of all the figures I imagined, she was the only one who inflicts fear in the heart of men. Once an alluring maiden, she was raped by the Greek god Poseidon in the temple of his nemesis, Athena. However, Athena exacted her vengeance onto Medusa instead of Poseidon, turning her into a Gorgon and her hair into hideous snakes. Medusa then settled at the end of the earth, finding respite in solitude. Men continued to hunt her but so many found their doom on her “doorstep”. Ultimately, she met her demise at the wits of Persus, who used a mirror to stun and decapitate Medusa. The conflict within Medusa’s story is actually a war between the mirror and the mask.
Catwoman undoubtedly paces on the fence of good and evil, which causes other’s to view her with constant scrutiny. She is the ultimate shape-shifter. Then, we have The Evil Queen, whose narcissism infected everything in her domain. Her opinion was so very important that if you dare try to divert the subject away from her you would receive hefty backfire. Clearly you “don’t respect” her. She is not too different from The Red Queen, found in the fantastical Alice in Wonderland. This disorderly tyrant thrives on violence and it is a major theme within her realm. She uses death as a way to solve problems. This also applies to her devotees! She is surrounded by followers but will never understand loyalty and service.
“She’s Got One of Those Faces” resonates a particularly haunting tone for me. I wanted Athena to symbolize power and wisdom, yet have the demeanor of a child. Her covetous expression and reactive tendencies kept me looking over my shoulder in the studio. She reminded me to hold on tightly to what I’ve been granted, no matter how undeserving. That is where real power is discovered. We are not meant to plunder each other, but rather, we should inspire others to enjoy what they have with great tenacity!
Kali, “The Devouring Mother”, is invoked for vengeance and retribution in the Hindu culture. When I think of her, I see her dancing in the path of destruction. A force to be reckoned with, her ultimate goal is to liberate her children from attachment to the body. She reminds me to lay down my weapon and accept the chaotic order of consequence. There is a natural method to trial and punishment.
Last, but not lease, there was once Lorelei. I purposely chose Lorelei to be last in the series, which proved to be a perfect culmination of grief, sacrifice, and closure. She represents the wounded lover and siren of the sea. Her story originates from a town in Germany located along the Rhine River. One day, she found her lover to be unfaithful and in a fit of despair, threw herself over the cliffs. To this day, sailors claim to hear her enthralling sound roll down from the cliffs. For me, she is more than a swan-song. Instead, she is evidence of a rapid release that had been building during my journey though the Shadow Feminine. When the moment came to step back and finally meet her, I was so very tempted to join her! It’s as though there was a gentle hum coming from the painting beckoning me to jump into its cool waters. I’m quite fond of Lorelei and her approachability. However, I still must pause to remind myself of her injury and its effects. I can’t help but to contemplate which she considers being most unending. The pang of betrayal from a lover, or the weariness on the cliffs as she is left behind day after day.
I know not if there is a reason
Why I am so sad at heart.
A legend of bygone ages
Haunts me and will not depart.
The air is cool under nightfall.
The calm Rhine courses its way.
The peak of the mountain is sparkling
With evening's final ray.
The fairest of maidens is sitting
Unwittingly wondrous up there,
Her golden jewels are shining,
She's combing her golden hair.
The comb she holds is golden,
She sings a song as well
Whose melody binds an enthralling
And overpowering spell.
In his little boat, the boatman
Is seized with a savage woe,
He'd rather look up at the mountain
Than down at the rocks below.
I think that the waves will devour
The boatman and boat as one;
And this by her song's sheer power
Fair Loreley has done.
- Heinrich Heine, 1823
Up next on the Gallery Wall is Made Out of Paint, John C. Wagoner.