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In order to emphasize the close nature of the two goddesses who in fact were, in some places, worshipped as one goddess, I have made the five garments relate to one another by the use of color and embroidered pattern. Their silk undertunics are imprinted with the text of the Homeric Hymn to Demeter (in Greek) and Ovid’s versions of the Persephone story from the Metamorphoses and the Fasti (in Latin). Each figure’s garment, hair, and accessories help to identify them and make each one unique. Demeter wears bright green silk. I put Doso in a gray dress, black pallium (shawl), and handmade gray wig to represent her sorrowful state and her effective crone-like disguise. She is holding a torch in order to search for her missing daughter. The three Persephone figures wear dresses in graduating shades of pink to maroon. The version of Persephone as the Queen of the Underworld wears a bright red dress and veil, topped by a beaded girdle and a belt of gold coins, representing the payments made to Charon, the ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly deceased across the river Styx. She is holding an actual dried pomegranate.

As I constructed these figures I worked back and forth among them, inspired by Professor Hinds’ description of Ovid who, perhaps, wrote both of his Persephone stories in this same concurrent manner, rather than sequentially. This method gave me the opportunity to commingle my artistic ideas during the working process so that each statuette could influence the others. In this way, I viscerally experienced the deep connection between Demeter and Persephone.

To Persephone by Enid Mark beautifully marries image, in the form of her atmospheric lithographs, and text from the work of nine contemporary poets.

Demeter and Persephone
Lauren Dudley

Mark’s enthralling lithographs are displayed both sequentially and additively: a foldout frontispiece, a centerfold spread and a foldout endpiece. With the first and last pages extended and the book opened at the center, the panels present a continuous landscape. In the frontispiece image shown here, a Greek temple stands in ruins atop a stony mound, pictorially framed by a dramatic surround of foliage and sky. The accompanying poem, Pomegranate by Louise Glück, reframes the myth of Persephone as the tale of a young girl caught between two adults – her mother and her husband – who compete for her love and her loyalty, and sensitively portrays Persephone’s uncertainty and hesitation as she progresses from being a dutiful daughter to seeing her mother’s overwhelming love in a new light.

The landscape image seems saturated with an aura of the distant past. Creamy whites and dove grays are supported by a barely perceptible mottling in the shadows and mid-tones that conjure the qualities of an antique print. The view is clear, but nonetheless the presence of a fine-grained texture makes it seem that the most delicate of mists has spread itself over the scene. The whole image, from the calculated framing by the

trees to the canny placement of the clouds, suggests the 18th century Romantic view of landscape called The Picturesque.

In this beguiling scene the classical world, represented by that enticing temple on a hill, is pushed into the far distance and, metaphorically speaking, out of the grasp of the beholder up front. This somewhat forlorn separation of the ancient world from the solid ground of reality parallels the status of the Persephone myth in contemporary times: we attempt to see her through the lens of the past, attempt to reconstruct how the ancient Greeks envisioned her, but like that gleaming temple she remains always slightly beyond our reach.

The myth of Persephone is a narrative of bereavement, displacement and desire. The legend resonates with the theme of transformation: from life to death to rebirth, the cycle of seasons, and the progression of innocence to maturity. In the myriad of interpretations of the myth, from ancient to modern, Persephone continues to provoke, enchant, mystify and, as Professor Hinds states in the title of his book, serve many as their muse.

To Persephone
Enid Mark

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