In celebration of Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses, we currently have an exhibition of myth-inspired artwork on display in the Catwalk Café. The exhibition, entitled Imagining Ovid, features the paitings and sculptures of three local artists: Micheline Klagsbrun, June Linowitz, and Massimo Righini. Below, you can read an interview with June to learn more about the Apollo and Daphne-inspired sculpture she has on display, entitled The Chase. Be sure to come see Imagining Ovid, which will be up in the Rock Garden until Metamorphoses closes on March 17th!
When were you first exposed to the Apollo and Daphne story? Why did you want to make a sculpture inspired by this particular myth?
I don’t remember when I was exposed to this particular myth but I have always been interested in mythology. One of the major themes in mythology is transformation. On an emotional level beings are transformed from, for instance, greediness to compassion or arrogance to humility. On the physical level Ovid has stones transforming into women and women into magpies or, in this particular myth, a woman is transformed into a tree. The transformation of this myth especially intrigued me. The situation that Apollo and Daphne find themselves in is a result of the arrogance of Apollo and the vengefulness of Cupid. Not only does Cupid make it so that Apollo greatly desires Daphne, he also makes it so that Daphne is utterly repelled by Apollo. There’s no way this situation could have a happy ending. Daphne is the victim in this story and her only way out was transform herself into something completely other.
What were the decisions you made with The Chase? In particular, why did you choose to depict the figures in fragmented pieces?
In The Chase I depicted the moment of transformation, when Daphne, about to be captured by Apollo, transforms into a tree. I wanted my sculpture to be about the transformative process and I wanted the observer to be part of that transformation. I made the sculpture in pieces so that the coherence of the image would fragment and then recreate itself as the viewer moves around the work. The Chase literally transforms from a series of abstracted forms into a two complete figures. As long as the viewer moves around the sculpture it will create and disintegrate. It will continue to transform.
You have mentioned making other artwork inspired by mythology. Are there any over-arching themes that run through your work?
I am drawn to myths because I believe that myths say something basic and profound about who we are. And, as I said above, myths are about transformation. I am also drawn to masks and have made quite a number of masks in my career. Masks, like myths, are about transformation. One puts on a mask and is instantly transformed into another being. Masks, over the ages, and around the world, have been integral to telling the story of myths. My current work is exploring emotions and states of mind in an archetypal sense. I think mythology informs and inhabits all this work.
Your experience as a curator was very helpful in setting up the artwork in this exhibition. How did you decide where to place the artwork in the Rock Garden?I approached placing the work in Imagining Ovid as I usually do when curating a show. It is important that each work can have its own space and be appreciated without interference from the other work in the show. I also wanted to create a visual flow so that the eye moves easily from one piece to the other and the individual works set up a dialogue with each other. The fact that all the work in this show shares the common theme of mythology and sometimes a common myth made creating this visual dialogue easier. I think the strength of this show is seeing how individual artists choose to depict the same myth. The brilliant play Metamorphoses creates an exciting and innovative space for viewing this art. It has been a privilege to be associated with Arena Stage and Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses.