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Each opening of this book represents one stage of Persephone’s life. The first rendering, executed in lively strokes of the pen, depicts the Arcadian field where the young Persephone found the narcissus amidst the colorful flowers and the lushly treed landscape. The tone changes with the introduction of Hades, depicted on the center page in muted colors, the ruby-red pomegranate temptingly highlighted in the gloom. The final page portrays the land in verdant springtime hues, indicating that Persephone has been returned to Demeter and the land, thereby bringing forth the seasons to the earth.

Morrison brings image and text together by placing them in a stage-like setting framed in gold. She works in crisp and freely rendered pen strokes, deftly playing up the natural variations of the medium. The artist employs a unique story-telling method by excluding all the characters of the myth, and letting the energy and movement of the drawings and delicate waves of color convey the emotional range of Persephone’s story.

Mari Eckstein Gower

Eight of the ten artists’ books shown here represent some aspect of the Persephone myth. Two address the theme of mother-daughter relationships, which, when viewed through the lens of the story of Demeter and Persephone, gain fresh perspectives and added dramatic presence.

When Lois Morrison heard the San Francisco Symphony play Igor Stravinsky’s Persephone, a work for speaker, solo voices, dancers, chorus and orchestra with a libretto by André Gide, she was inspired to create a book based on the ancient myth.

Morrison’s Persephone, a multilayered diorama-like nested accordion book, depicts three scenes about the Goddess using

Gocco printed illustrations. Each volume in the edition of 25 copies is colored by hand with Pigma pens and watercolor. In the myth, Persephone is gathering flowers in a field when she spots a beautiful narcissus. Just as she picks the flower, the earth cracks open and the young maiden is abducted by her uncle, God of the underworld, Hades. While she is missing, her mother Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest, is both bereft and enraged, resulting in the death of all the crops.

Persephone is eventually returned, but because she has eaten pomegranate seeds, she is compelled to return to Hades for part of each year.

Lois Morrison

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