Atalanta, stained glass and textile mosaic 37" x 19", framed
Atalanta is a stained glass and textile mosaic on birch wood panel, framed, 37" x 19" The piece features decorative soldering, jute wrap, mirror, cotton and glass details. The background is a textile birch forest pattern, with hand painted golden apples in the left bottom corner.
The work is inspired by Tomb Raider digital artwork that reminded me of Atalanta, a Greek huntress and a feminine archetype of survival. Briefly, Atalanta is the story of a girl who was abandoned and had to become a survivalist. Out of self-protection, she closed her heart to love and embraced an invincible cover-persona. Over time, Atalanta came to find that she could be open and receive love while still taking proper care of herself and others. Atalanta, ever the athlete, found balance.
To me, the story of Atalanta is a tale of finding balance between feminine and masculine energies, which have little to do with gender. The unfolding of life teaches us to appreciate our own vulnerabilities and strengths equally.
Here's the longer tale of Atalanta...
When Atalanta was born her father, Iasus, (who was not a nice guy) had been hoping for a son. Not one to handle disappointment well, he left her on a mountainside to die of exposure.
Miraculously, Atalanta was taken in by a she-bear and her life was spared. When she was a bit older, hunters found her in the wilds and took her in as their own. They taught her how to live with other people and helped hone her hunting skills. They named her Atalanta from the Greek word atalantos, meaning "equal in weight". Her adopted fathers didn't care that she was a girl; they cherished her and encouraged her to be her best self.
When Atalanta grew older, she dedicated herself to the Greek goddess of the hunt, Artemis, and promised that she would never marry. Always up for a challenge, she competed with the best male athletes and won. Legends of her speed, accuracy and strength grew.
Eventually, Atalanta reunited with her father (who had mellowed with time, but was still a jerk). He was also a king, so the benefits of reuniting somewhat outweighed his jerkiness. Nevertheless, he insisted that she marry. Atalanta struck a deal with her father and agreed to marry any man that could beat her in a foot race (something no one had ever done!). Ever the jerk, her father agreed but also insisted that every man who lost the race must also lose his head.
Atalanta's strength was equal to her beauty, so many men accepted the challenge despite the risk - and many men died. But then there was Hippomenes... and he wasn't just a pretty face! Hippomenes had met Atalanta years earlier when they were on a hunt together. Aside from having a major crush, he really liked and respected her. He knew he couldn't defeat her in a foot race (and didn't want to die trying!) so he sought help from Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
Aphrodite gave Hippomenes three golden, magical apples and told him to toss the apples one by one along the path of the race. Atalanta would find them irresistible and pause to pick them up, giving Hippomenes just enough time to win.
In the end, Hippomenes did win the race and Atalanta married him. They lived happily ever after... well, until they were both turned into lions by Zeus - but that's another story.