I’m a woman of a certain age, well , 51 to be precise. I’m in the throes of the dreaded ‘change’, that period of life where there is no period , and sometimes there is period … but I digress. Along with the hot flushes and
mood swings rages , I’ve found the imagery I’ve been drawn to when making my wearable art, has been consistent. Medusa has raised her snakey head and fixed me with her stony gaze.
The furies, versions of which there are many,
and flames, so many flames!
I seem to be burning everything from the hem up!
Even Frida Kahlo, one of my biggest muses and inspirations, has managed to transform herself into Medusa on one of my pieces to communicate a message of sisterhood and self acceptance. This particular piece was inspired after watching a video of Eartha Kitt speaking about compromise.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGYwf7e_cr8 Seeing this woman who clearly was in her power through absolute knowledge of her own worth was a moment of true empowerment for me. Immediately I came up with the line A Woman Who Loves Herself is a Dangerous Woman as a response and Sisterhood is Subversive as a political partner phrase.If women could find their power through self acceptance imagine the implications… Women uniting would bring down Patriarchy.
But back to Gorgons monsters and Medusa.
I had not given much thought as to why I had been repeatedly drawn to recreating these images until today. Today a book plopped through my letterbox; a book by an amazing woman: Dominique Christina.
If you haven’t heard of her yet, you are in for a treat. If you have, you know what I mean , right? I first came across her via social media, on Facebook where a video of her poem The Period Poem was shared. Here it is . Get ready …
I bet you are feeling a little blown away , right? It’s okay, she has that effect on people. Authentic people have that knack, especially women in full flow and with full access to their rage. Dominique’s poetry gives me the chills, gives me access to deep seated pain and raises my righteous rage: a Medusa spirit if ever I saw/felt one.
When I saw Dominique had written a book, I ordered it immediately. On opening the book and reading the first two pages of the introduction , things just sort of fell into place. There it was, the explanation of the Furies, the gorgon Medusa; the reason, the motivation, the magic.
…”When you have inherited a construct that names, describes and practices out an ideology that women are somehow less important , less necessary , then the work of defining yourself carries a kind of fury – or Fury. In Greek mythology , the Furies were three women born from the blood of Uranus , the god of the sky, when his son Cronus wounded him in battle. …In a patriarchal context, the machinery that often drives politics oppressive to women is borne out of a wounded warrior motif and the inheritance of that war passes between father and son. I have long believed that if men had not been conditioned to be conquerors, then women would not need to be regarded as a designated underclass. …in order for women to have authorship of themselves , they often travel through the fire, through the bloody constructs that have been built by wounded warriors. The Furies were imagined as hags, …with serpents for hair and bat wings…written as monstrous and venomous . .. The Furies meted out punishment to those who had committed wrong swiftly and severely. …they were unapologetic about seeking balance when wrong had been done. “
This made perfect sense to me. I knew instinctively that the work I was doing was feminist, the flames were coming from somewhere, clearly. After doing a lot of work on past issues , of being subject to the attentions of a paedophile at 13 , I was left , in my Crone years , in the rising of my rage, with a Furies need to meet out justice which I too express through poetry, on a much smaller scale, I might add. The images were clearly coming from deep in my subconscious. I further read on to find that Medusa’s creation of the serpent haired gorgon who could turn a man into a pillar of stone at one glance, came from rape. Medusa was a beautiful woman ( a woman who loved herself) who was raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple, as a way of punishing her for her ‘vanity’. How dare a woman be confident? Athena transformed her into the gorgon when she dared speak of the violation. Talk about the ultimate silencing tactic, something that many rape victims can identify with to this day. As a woman who has suffered rape many times in her life time, I’m now not surprised that Medusa seems like a magical totem for me. Medusa: my emblem of righteous rage.
To find out more about Medusa and wearable art, head over to www.iheartcart.com