Updated: May 13, 2020
Many myths are the foundation of our societies and even philosophies. Personally, I have been taken by myths and fantasy since I was a little girl. During childhood, one can lose themselves in the alternate realities that narratives introduce. I spent most of my time in these other worlds because when I was not reading, I was daydreaming. The power and life force behind narratives touch us at the beginning of our lives and have the ability to influence the rest of our days. This is the power of narrative, of story-telling, and it continues to fuel my inspiration for my art practice. Recently, I have been very interested in comparative mythology, so naturally, I've begun reading of Joseph Campbell's work. This painting directed me towards this path.
Prior to working on Into the Great Deep, I had an interest in reading mythology and fantasy and wasn't sure if it would make its way into my work. Luckily, it did, and this is something that I want to dissect much further. Though I have not been able to produce as much work of this nature as I would like, I have huge plans for works that I am starting to create now. Their ideas were born with the one shown above and below.
This was inspired by the fall of Lucifer in John Milton’s Paradise Lost. To give you some background, Lucifer was the most beautiful and powerful of God’s angels and he reigned over the Heavens under God. After realizing the extent of his power and influence, Lucifer began glorifying himself for his own abilities. His humility continued to fade and he became envious of God’s power and disliked His plan for humanity. Lucifer, backed by an army of angels in support of him, rose up against God. They were cast out of Heaven and into “the Great Deep,” Hell, as consequence of their disobedience. According to John Milton’s retelling, Lucifer landed in a burning lake. In agony from being rejected by God, he was filled with anger and resentment and left to live eternity without God.
This was a powerful message to me, as I found so much humanity in it: facing rejection and the emptiness we hold after. So to portray this narrative, I wanted to employ a little intellectual gamesmanship in this piece and I chose my friend, Christian, to be the model. Not only is his name Christian, but he is also a devout Christian. He is a great example of someone who is led by humility and love. I asked him to assume the role of Satan, and I enjoyed the irony. Essentially, I asked him to trade in his humility for pride, his joy for pain, and his compassion for malice. There is a part in us, our shadow self if you will, that holds these dark, destructive feelings and emotions, though it is our choice if we decide to give into them, feed them.
Here, Lucifer is depicted after the Fall in all his vanity. I wanted his skin to feel hot, almost as if he was a hot coal dropped in water. In this way, I strayed away from realism, using only warm colors for his flesh and caustic network above him. I increased the contrast within the caustic network (the pattern created by the water) to communicate a sense of otherworldliness and it almost seems as if his body is undergoing transformation.
When I took the reference photos of Christian, I took ones with him in water and also ones with him covered in “blood”—fake blood that I mixed. This was done because blood is a unique symbol that has many connotations, such as: sin, salvation, sacrifice, life, and loss. The shoot produced great results, so I plan on making a series from the images. Here is a little peak into my next projects, below.
First and foremost, humans are story tellers. We love to hear a good story and we love to tell one. We create narratives that help us makes sense of the mystery and tragedy of life. My intention in my art practice is to continue to study these myths, truths, realities, and dissect them within my work. I want to represent one man’s reality and another man’s myth.