Friday, May 31, 2019

Pure Virgin

(Above:  Pure Virgin.  Framed:  19 1/2" x 16". Collage using gold-leaf embellished covers from the 1898 periodicals called Paris: Known and Unknown edited by William Walton and published by G. Barrie and Son and letters clipped from other antique and vintage ephemera.  Click on image to enlarge.)

More than a little bit of serendipity went into this piece commissioned by a patron I met at last year's Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show.  First, I just happened to find almost a complete run of Paris: Known and Unknown (1898) while at the Osage Arts Community, an art residency in Missouri.  I used much of my time there to sort through boxes of "stuff" saved for "something."  My patron wanted "something" that illustrated the word "Virgin" ... preferably non-religious, perhaps Pagan, and definitely not about the “loss of virginity".  During this time, Notre Dame accidentally caught fire and the 19th spire fell into the nave.  I was profoundly worried about one of my all-time favorite sculptures, the Virgin of Paris, that stands on a high pillar near the transept's northwestern column ... a place right under the spire.  (She survived, thank goodness!)

Although the central figure on the covers of Paris Known and Unknown is not a rendition of the Virgin of Paris, it seemed serendipitous especially after learning that “Fluctuat ne Mergitur” (appearing in the tree inspired foliage on the publication’s covers) is the Paris city motto. It means “[She] is tossed [by the waves], but does not sink” (or apparently turn to rubble during a fire).  All this reminded me of another city's female deity ... Athena, patroness of Athens, Greece.

From ancient Greek mythology, Athena is still heralded as the “Virgin Goddess”. Born fully grown from her father Zeus’ head, Athena (often given the epithet “Pallas”) was revered as the goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and warfare. Homeric Hymn 39 (although some sources give it the number XXVIII), opens with the following, translated lines: “I begin to sing of Pallas Athena, the glorious goddess, bright-eyed, inventive, unbending of heart, pure virgin, savior of cities, courageous.”

The publication’s central figure seems an embodiment of a city’s strong, female character, a glorious deity, a pure virgin in the face of catastrophe and a survivor through millenniums ... just like Athena. Two covers were used for the artwork. One was carefully cut to eliminate the title and other words. This was collaged onto the back of another cover because obviously the paper was the same. This provided ample area for the Homeric hymn’s opening lines to be collaged from my stash of clipped letters.

Most serendipitous, however, is the fact that the artwork was on the way to my client when I received notification that I've been accepted back into the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show this coming November 7 - 10th!  I can't believe it ... as this is now FOUR YEARS IN A ROW! 

(Above:  Piccolo Spoleto juror Arianne King Cromer and me with my Large Stained Glass Series work which was awarded "Best Fiber" in the juried show currently at City Gallery at Waterfront Park in Charleston, SC.)

More serendipity:  One of the images used in my application for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show is currently on display at the juried exhibition in City Gallery at Waterfront Park in Charleston where it won "Best Fiber".

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