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Art of the Day: Tuesday April 15, 2008

"Vanity" (Medusa)

- by Candace R Byington

This week's theme: Medusa

Medusa, more so than many other figures in myth and legend, has captured imaginations. She is often represented in art and literature. She is easily recognized by the snakes that are her hair and her often hideous countenance. We make references to her and we certainly know her when we see her, but how many of us really know the story of Medusa? For those who never really knew and for those who's memory has become foggy, here - in brief, is the story of Medusa.

Medusa was a Gorgon. She was one of three sisters and the only one who was mortal. Originally, she was a beautiful maiden with glorious, golden hair. While in the Temple Of Athena, she lay with Poseidon. The desecration of her temple so outraged Athena, that she turned Medusa's hair into living snakes and put on her the destructive power of turning whoever looked directly at her into stone. Perseus, in his quest to free his mother Danae from King Polydectes, was sent to kill Medusa and return with her head. He later used her head as a weapon but eventually gave it to Athena. Medusa was the mother of Pegasus and the giant Chrysaor. When slain, drops of her blood fell into the sea and from these, they were born.

Art: Vanity (Medusa) by Artist Candace R Byington
This drawing sold in 2000 on ebay but prints are available at: This is the second piece in the seven deadly sins series. Here Medusa is being subdued by a mask but she's frustrated and she licks her lips anticipating when the mask will fall so she can show everyone the ugliness underneath. Surrounding the gorgon are strange lilies and flowers on small islands, more masks to protect the viewer from her deadly looks, and two other gorgons, women in masks fighting amongst each other in the water. "What the Water Gave Me" by Frida Kahlo was an inspiration for the composition of this drawing. The original was a mix of acrylic, oil pastel, and graphite on watercolor paper.


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