Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Dawn of Helena's Liberation

The Dawn of Helena's Liberation, a #metoo collage by June Anderson, collage art by June Anderson, papercuts, papier colle

Hello Friends! As I was combing through my file folders of images cut from magazines for the February One Little Word collage I came across a particular image that I have been meaning to use for quite some time. Knowing that the intake for a spring art show at a local gallery was coming up soon I decided to make an idea I had for using the image a priority and worked on making it happen.

The image I found in my stash, a two page spread from a National Geographic magazine, is now the background of the above piece. As I recall the caption in the Geographic stated that the photograph is of an abandoned house in a desert somewhere. Months ago, as I cut the image from the publication, I had this idea that someday I would like to create a scene within this intriguing magical space.

And what scene could be more intriguing or magical than the transformational moment when one receives specific knowledge of a coming event that will alter their life for the better in significant ways?

Meet Helena, whose name means bright shining light, and is the subject of the assemblage I'm sharing with you here today. I call this piece The Dawn of Helena's Liberation. Her real name is Young Girl from Anzio (Rome) and she is a Roman copy of an Hellenistic sculpture. Helena features prominently in this collage because she represents the women of the Hellenistic era (323 BC - 31 BC) who welcomed new laws that gave them legal, social, economic and cultural freedoms as well as educational opportunities, making them smarter, legally freer and economically stronger. This is my ode to that moment in time.

During the Hellenistic era, new philosophical schools of thought influenced the loosening of social constructs for women. For example, women were allowed to draw up and sign their own contracts and legal documents that protected their social status which made the exploitation of them more difficult.  And a prominent improvement in women's lives was that they were no longer required to have an escort or chaperone in legal matters or to enter public spaces or gymnasiums.

Being able to leave their homes unescorted, women became integrated into society and in the workforce, albeit in their more traditional Greek roles such as weavers, pot makers, launders, grocers and barmaids.

With education, women became literate in subjects such as mathematics and literature and worked as philosophers, poets, writers, architects and musicians.

Young Girl at Anzio was excavated in 1878, having been found in an early Roman Imperial villa, and is thought to be a priestess. When I first saw her in my vintage Art of Classical Greece book several months ago, I knew she would be perfect for some as yet unknown collage project. Then, as I was flipping through the book again, looking for an image to cut out and place on the mound of sand in the Geographic magazine spread, I knew she would be perfect.

I thought, what better recipient of a life changing event than a priestess named Helena? And how about the spiritual significance of a luminous silver bird that symbolizes the coming of the new rights bestowed upon women and who intimately delivers that message? I felt that this noteworthy dramatic story of transformation is best told in the midst of an azure colored temple and that it only seemed right that an event of this magnitude should take place within a powerful golden 'other-world' atmosphere. There, Helena sat, ready, waiting, clock ticking away. And when the moment came, she stood and formally received a grand and historic moment.

Are there significant moments in the history of women that you are fond of? What stories of women's transformation do you enjoy? Leave me a comment or send me an email. 
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