What is it about humanity that makes it so impossible for us to comprehend our own greatness? We look to ancient stories, to legend for inspiration...reading tales of men and women who were somehow extraordinary, worthy of worship. How certain we are that these "great" people never knew the insecurities we feel, never felt our fear.
I can promise you they did, and the reason why they became so great in our eyes, is that they were unwilling to let that fear stop them.
As Neil Gaiman, using the philosophy of G.K. Chesterton, so perfectly expressed in Coraline: "Fairy tales are more than true — not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten."
So, this year I've taken it upon myself to anthropomorphize the tales of great men and women and gods, and turn "ordinary" people into modern replications of these fabled lives. The series is called Ancient Muses, and focuses on those figures who, throughout history, have turned our heads, and taught us to understand greatness.
It's now our turns to apply this greatness to ourselves, and realize what we are capable of.
So, with this philosophy in my pocket, I've decided to embark on a 12 figure sub-series of Olympians, beginning with the big man himself: Zeus. I asked Brian Donnelly, Renaissance man extraordinaire, to play the role. Truthfully, there could've been no one better. And once his Mary (with whom I've worked with before on a previous shoot), agreed to tag along as the Maiden o'the day. Everything began to click into place.
In the meantime the REMARKABLE Stephanie Brownell was whipping up some headdress wizardry to complement the noble duo.
Day of the Shoot
It could not have been a grosser day. Sticky and humid with the threat of foreboding rain, and to top it off my lovely makeup artist unable to make the trip because someone had hidden her Passport (and she was nearing an important journey to further her career). Yet, it was too late to cancel..there had been months of planning and this was the day.
And fortunately for me, it came to be known that Brian also has mad skills with makeup, and was able to streak lightning across his face and prepare the lady Mary.
And then! When Pat arrived to bear the lightbringer (which he accomplished masterfully), things began to look up.
The coat that you see is in fact real fur, not something that I would normally promote, except for the story that comes attached to it. My dear friend Leigh (Who was my Brighid for this series), was given this coat by her grandmother - an heirloom. Leigh, an ardent animal lover like myself, could never wear the item. Instead, she plans to donate it to Coats for Cubs - an organization which uses donated fur coats to rehabilitate and aid injured wildlife, and nurse them back to health.
Yes, this a headdress made from artificial grapes. Stephanie is a genius.
For the full gallery click HERE.
Hesiod's Account of Zeus in the Theogony (Part II) - Hugh G. Evelyn-White translation
"But Rhea was subject in love to Cronos and bare splendid children, Hestia (18), Demeter, and gold-shod Hera and strong Hades, pitiless in heart, who dwells under the earth, and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker, and wise Zeus, father of gods and men, by whose thunder the wide earth is shaken. These great Cronos swallowed as each came forth from the womb to his mother's knees with this intent, that no other of the proud sons of Heaven should hold the kingly office amongst the deathless gods. For he learned from Earth and starry Heaven that he was destined to be overcome by his own son, strong though he was, through the contriving of great Zeus (19). Therefore he kept no blind outlook, but watched and swallowed down his children: and unceasing grief seized Rhea. But when she was about to bear Zeus, the father of gods and men, then she besought her own dear parents, Earth and starry Heaven, to devise some plan with her that the birth of her dear child might be concealed, and that retribution might overtake great, crafty Cronos for his own father and also for the children whom he had swallowed down. And they readily heard and obeyed their dear daughter, and told her all that was destined to happen touching Cronos the king and his stout-hearted son. So they sent her to Lyetus, to the rich land of Crete, when she was ready to bear great Zeus, the youngest of her children. Him did vast Earth receive from Rhea in wide Crete to nourish and to bring up. Thither came Earth carrying him swiftly through the black night to Lyctus first, and took him in her arms and hid him in a remote cave beneath the secret places of the holy earth on thick-wooded Mount Aegeum; but to the mightily ruling son of Heaven, the earlier king of the gods, she gave a great stone wrapped in swaddling clothes. Then he took it in his hands and thrust it down into his belly: wretch! he knew not in his heart that in place of the stone his son was left behind, unconquered and untroubled, and that he was soon to overcome him by force and might and drive him from his honours, himself to reign over the deathless gods.
After that, the strength and glorious limbs of the prince increased quickly, and as the years rolled on, great Cronos the wily was beguiled by the deep suggestions of Earth, and brought up again his offspring, vanquished by the arts and might of his own son, and he vomited up first the stone which he had swallowed last. And Zeus set it fast in the wide-pathed earth at goodly Pytho under the glens of Parnassus, to be a sign thenceforth and a marvel to mortal men (20). And he set free from their deadly bonds the brothers of his father, sons of Heaven whom his father in his foolishness had bound. And they remembered to be grateful to him for his kindness, and gave him thunder and the glowing thunderbolt and lightening: for before that, huge Earth had hidden these. In them he trusts and rules over mortals and immortals."