The Psyche Narrative

Psyche was the most beautiful woman on the world, so beautiful, if fact, no one courted her. She was thought unattainable, but she was actually lonely. Because Psyche was so beautiful, Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, became jealous and had Psyche cursed to marry Death. She sent Eros to shoot Psyche with his arrow so that she would fall in love with Death. Eros, however, was so stunned by Psyche’s beauty he became distracted and cut himself with his own arrow, thus falling in love with Psyche himself.

 

The West wind then carried Psyche to Eros’s Eden, where she was to live with a God in paradise. There were conditions, however, and Psyche must not look upon Eros, for he was a God; and if she did look upon him she would be cursed and paradise would become lost… Of course she must see him, so one night she lit her lamp and illuminated the God, but he awakens and flies away, and then the adventure really begins…

 

Everything that happens to Psyche in the story is only because of what she looks like, she becomes a point of projection, from Eros and Aphrodite in particular. Thus I use iconographic female images from Pop culture to cast in the role of Psyche, women who are culturally associated with beauty and sexuality. While these icons are associated with sexuality and fantasized about by many men, there actually is no relationship between the icon and the viewer, except what lives inside the viewers head. By choosing figures that are clearly seen as sexualized, whatever relationship the viewer sees in my work lives also only in the viewers mind. Depending on the viewer that relationship may be anger, desire, fear, judgment of the artist, or many at once.

 

Such is the role of Psyche, a fantasy that exists outside of the male mind, but also inside the male mind. When Eros falls in love with Psyche at first sight, he has no idea of who she is. It is a visual experience, not an emotional experience, or rather, whatever emotions are experienced is only caused by the visual relationship. Interestingly this is the same relationship one has to art. In most cases art is neutral, it is an object, (objectified) yet the viewer creates a relationship with the art by looking at it.

 

One of the challenges of great art is to make something familiar without being expected, or archetypal without being cliché. In my art I take on very large issues. I am not content to re-create that which already exists, nor am I interested in creating another version of an established paradigm or another version of non-challenging decoration. The purpose of art is to make that which is universal become singular in the eye of the artist. This is no easy task. It requires time, time to be looked at and opened up to, the viewer must make an investment in looking, a precious commodity these days with our micro second attention spans. Whatever your initial response is, if I am doing my job well, there are subsequent layers that will provoke the viewer to keep looking, probing and thinking.

© 2013 by JS Bird/YELLOW DEER STUDIOS