Sally Farnham‘s Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Memorial in Ogdensburg, New York, was inspired by the Nike of Samothrace, a sculpture the young Sally saw in the Louvre. The historic photo at left is the clay sculpture before casting; at right, the finished monument on its plinth. Check #GoddessID for my recent posts. Sally’s over-life-size bronze goddess is described in some historic detail here.
Harriet Hosmer is widely recognized today as one of the first and most skilled female neoclassical sculptors in America. She was particularly interested in the historic plight of women, which is seen in her extraordinary bust of Medusa, created in 1854. In Greek mythology, Medusa was a beautiful girl cursed by Athena, who mutated her into a vile, homely Gorgon. Medusa’s hair turned to snakes and she gained the power to petrify men. Hosmer’s Medusa is compassionately rendered in a fixed state of transformation, with snakes intertwining her lovely hair. In addition, Medusa bears two feathered wings, reminiscent of the winged horse Pegasus that was born from her neck after she was beheaded.
Photo and text courtesy of artsmia.org
The marble Hygieia at the Worcester art museum is missing her head and arms, yet still appears graceful and somehow beckoning. From the 2nd century CE, excavated in Antioch, the goddess of health (Greek: ὑγίεια – hugieia) still retains traces of gilding on her long, wavy hair.
Hygieia was one of the Aeclepiadae; the sons and daughters of the god of medicine, Asclepius, and the goddess of healing, Epione. Her name is the source of the word “hygiene”. Many neoclassical American sculptors took on this theme, notably Edmonia Lewis.
#GoddessID is where I’ll keep a repository of ancient goddesses in sculpture, like Talakh, a new one to me. Here’s a quote from the label of this relief sculpture, in the Worcester Museum of Art:
“This Nubian masterpiece depicts Prince Arikankharer in a triumphal scene….a winged goddess, incised with the name Talakh, hovers behind the prince and holds a long fan and a cudgel.” So it looks like Talakh helped the prince smite many enemies, like the one lying on the ground at his feet, a dog eating his face. Ouch.
Worcester Art Museum
Recently, I came across yet another “opportunity” for artists to pay fees to show, and thought I’d spread the word about how unfair this practice is. I’m quoting here from one of my favorite bloggers, paintingdemos:
“A reputable commercial gallery won’t make you pay to exhibit your art, they will make their money from their commission, so they work with the artist as a team to get sales. If you pay thousands of dollars to show in a gallery, they don’t have so much incentive to sell your art, you are the target market they go after, not the gallery visitors.”
And an important piece of legislation for artists is making its way through Congress. Now’s the time for you to weigh in on increasing copyright protections for artists and creatives. The Case Act, HR3945, will establish a small-claims type process for infringement, meaning artists don’t have to pay huge fees to copyright attorneys to recover theft and misappropriation of their art. Read more here and contact your Representatives.
Now streaming on PBS, an interesting survey of representative sculpture and the art of the body in “How Do We Look,” part of the Civilizations series: https://www.pbs.org/video/how-do-we-look-5kwh6n/
pictured: jade Olmec figurines
Nancy Schön, sculptor of the beloved Make Way for Ducklings bronze on Boston Common, is showing new and classic work at the Gallery at North Hill, an assisted-living complex. On view are her series of small-scale Aesop’s fables pieces and life-size animals in bronze. Crow and the Pitcher, a diminutive 6x6x14 inches, is shown below
Ellen Schön, Nancy’s daughter, is a ceramic sculptor who teaches at Lesley University College of Art and Design (LUCAD). Nancy’s hand built, direct-fired ceramic forms are inspired by nature and the landscape. Her transcendent Lotus Pod (above) is smoke-fired clay. The piece references lotus flowers, symbols of enlightenment, and almost seems to hover above its pedestal.
The gallery is open to the public daily from 9am-5pm just inside the main entrance at 865 Central Ave., Needham, MA.
State of Clay is a biannual show of Massachusetts clay artists, and I’m included this year. The show opens May 5 and the opening reception is May 6. Juror was Emily Zilber, Curator of Contemporary Decorative Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Frances Glessner Lee created her crime-scene miniatures to assist, and in a sense develop, the training of forensic investigators. Using real dollhouse furniture and dolls, the miniatures are, however, anything but toys.
Thwarted in her quest to become a doctor, this Gilded-age heiress constructed tiny rooms from descriptions of real crime scenes, so accurate they contained correct blood spatter patterns. A sculpture series in its own right, the diminutive rooms subvert all notions of domestic bliss. Viewing the doll corpses and wee murder weapons is to enter a dystopian wonderland of murder, suicide, accident, and mayhem.
Exhibited at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, DC several years ago, where they were the subject of a book, “The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death,” Lee’s pieces deserve a permanent home on public display.
I couldn’t resist reposting this article about Carol May‘s Happy Meal parody sculpture ending up in the trash. Read to the end, which has a short history of other sculptures mistaken for something that needed cleaning.