Found 06/2015, Goodwill (Brushy Creek and 183, Cedar Park)
The anonymous artist of The World explores mythological themes on a massive scale, using a roughly 4’x3′ canvas to depict the world in legendary terms.
Mythologically, the earth is usually depicted as female—the Goddess Gaia, the source of life. Here, the powers that operate on and around the world as well are shown as women, or androgynous. The most detailed subject is the prima mobile in the Herculean role. The character’s solid musculature, narrow hips, and shorter hair suggest a male figure, but as a stylistic or editorial choice the artist does not show the figure’s sexual characteristics, and the figure’s chest suggests a sharply defined rib cage, but may be interpreted as a breast in profile, given the abstract nature of the work.
Around the world, positioned like the representations of the four winds in a vintage map or the emblems of The World in a Tarot Deck, are women. Looking at The World as a depiction of Greek mythology, the women depicted become elements of Hercules’s quest, challenges like Circe or Penelope waiting for Odysseus’s return. In seeing these female figures through the lens of male-dominated mythology, they become objects within a male’s story—powerful objects, alluring objects, but objects nonetheless.
If we assume that the prima mobile is female, we see a world where all power and motion—from the green world itself to the winds around it to the rotation of the earth and stars, is fundamentally female in its origins. Through this lens, The World becomes a powerful piece, reclaiming mythology in the name of the Goddess.
Viewing the world-moving figure as androgynous creates its own challenges, creating an adversarial dynamic. The figure becomes unmanned by the powers of the world, enslaved to its task while goddess-like figures are free to move and act. A genderless slave in a female world, the prima mobile becomes male simply by contrast, and is transformed into a martyr in the gender war. We cannot ultimately know the artist’s intent as the piece is unsigned, but perhaps the tension between these interpretations is the true power in this work.