The Female Hero

The Female Hero

Monday, November 7, 2016

Female Hero Print and Explanation

"The Female Hero" Silkscreen on Blind Embossment, 2003

The Female Hero – the Print
E. K. Sparks

·      Diagram at the center of the print is from Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, the section called “The Keyes,”  pp. 245.

·      The quest begins in the upper left (about 11:00)  The figure here is from The Book of Thel by William Blake, a poem about a young woman who refuses the call to adulthood and chooses to stay instead in a haven of stultified innocence (which eventually will turn into Ulhro, Blake’s hell of solipsism) (Here's a link to an illustrated summary of the poem:

·      The next phase is Alice crossing the threshold into Wonderland, through the mirror

·      After the threshold has been crossed in the lower rt hand corner is a detail from Remedios Varo’s painting “Exploration of the Sources of the Orinoco River,” which depicts a woman journeying through a swamp in a boat made out of her own overcoat.

·      At the bottom of the circle, or the nadir of the quest is an image of a young girl asleep in the jaws of a dragon by a Swedish (?) illustrator whose name I can no longer remember.  This is a reference to a passage from Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet, where he asks:

How should we be able to forget those ancient myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us. "
It is also a reference to the lyrics of a song “Hills of Morning” by Bruce Cockburn on the album  “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws,” which for complicated reasons I believe references both Charles Williams and T.S. Eliot: 
And just beyond the range of normal sight
This glittering joker was dancing in the dragon's jaws

·       At about 5:00 on the circle is an image from The Wizard of Oz of Dorothy confronting the “False Father” figure of the Wizard (one of the notable differences btw the male and female quest is that typically the male hero receives recognition and atonement from the father --“Luke, you have saved me”—while the female hero finds out that the father figure is a fraud and imposter and she must either seek out her mother or become her own parent)
·      The image above that at the crossing of the return threshold is another I cannot recover.   Think it is Persephone or Psyche, returning from her quest, with arms full of fruit.    Ah, found it—Botticelli, from the Life of Moses in the Sistine Chapel – clearly not what I had thought, but still pastoral and fruitful.
·      The last image is off a greeting card, and again, I don’t know the artist—but it returns to the image of the dragon at the nadir, and for me is an image of wholeness, the woman now nurturing the dragon that once threatened her.

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