I trace my interest in Greek mythology back to a set of children’s encyclopedias, in which the articles on art and myth were, to me, the most riveting and the most significant. I read the myths repeatedly during a two-month recuperation from a childhood illness. The myths continued to intrigue me, reinforced by an education in which the weight of Greek thought and the ideals of visual form permeated formal art history training. Everywhere in our culture, elements of Greek architecture continue to signal the weight of political and educational bodies. Whatever you look for is always there, and since I looked for ancient Greek culture, it was always there for me as an antidote to the unadorned Protestantism and pragmatism of the Midwest.
When I was in junior high, I made a book illustrating Homer’s Odyssey, with brief quotations from the text. The women in the pictures wore Greek garb, with hairstyles and perky noses deeply influenced by shampoo ads and epic movies of the 50’s. When I started to study art in college, I found this little book highly amusing and a little embarrassing. Now I see that my union of ancient images with pop culture represents, in its clumsy way, what happens to myth – you find myths living in your personal landscape and adding one’s familiars to narrations happens naturally.
For almost thirty years, my country neighbors’ livestock, my friends and relatives, and the local fauna have eagerly entered into my reworking of the myths. They and the Greeks have stood me in good stead – a source of comfort during grief, reasoned inquiry against chaos, inspiration for the arts, and excellent company for a bit of the grape. Evoi!