"I have come from heaven to stay your anger...Three times as many glorious gifts shall be yours on account of the king's arrogance. But refrain, and obey me." - Athena, the Illiad
It's been several months since the snows wrecked the Northeastern United States, and these photos are a stark reminder as to what we all collectively went through. Now that we're finally walking into the welcome arms of summer, I feel I can revisit these images without remembering the cold too acutely.
Athena, the grey-eyed goddess, protector of Odysseus, Zeus's greatest headache, the goddess of war tactics and the arts...heralded for her intelligence, her wit, and her complete disinterest in ever being with a man – there's really so much to her. I fell in love with her story while on the way to summer camp in 2004, sitting in the back of the bus tearing through the Odyssey so as to avoid by screaming travel mates. Yet, it wasn't until the summer of last year when I started making plans for how I wished these photos to be. I had so many ideas and schemes, many of which were inspired by the work of Katerina Plotnikova, who works with a Russian zoo to create stunning images of young women with animals.
As you may have suspected, with Athena being associated with owls and all, I spent weeks researching local owl sanctuaries in the hope that a handler with an owl would be able to join me for an hour during the shoot. After being rejected multiple times for assorted reasons, the most absurd being that the rescue didn't want to "be in competition with another photographer." I was eventually forced to give up the idea in favor of focusing on Athena's textile prowess.
Enter Tara McGilvray-Guard, the lovely muse who I worked with on one of the early images for the Evolution of Time (it's still one of my favorite images to date). She was a Classical Studies major at the University of Edinburgh (yes, Scotland), with a penchant for the fiber arts. So much so that she's even applied for the Textile Archeology Graduate Program at the University of Stockholm (yes, Sweden). We hope she gets in.
Basically, she is Athena, and therefore perfect in every way.
When I had planned the shoot for the end of March, I had hoped by then Mother Nature would have been kinder with the weather. I had hoped for sunshine, or at least warm rain, with some flowers and trees. Little did I know that my recreation of Ancient Greece would be covered in 2 feet of snow with more on the way. We made the most of it.
Apart from costuming, which turned out to be simpler than expected. There were a couple of pieces which, although didn't feature heavily in the shoot, were able to bring the entire project together.
First, Tara (for funsies in college) handcrafted a 6 foot loom (see right) which she offered to drive up from the South Shore for the afternoon. It was such an extraordinary mechanism, and she managed to weave a bit despite how frozen her hands must have been throughout the process.
In addition to this sensational device my dear Chimæric whipped up a spear, using similar methods to the Trident he made for Poseidon. The most surprising thing was that he decided to make it the morning of the shoot, while we were getting ready. It turned out beautifully, I think.
Muse: Tara McGilvray-Guard
MUA: The Sensational Arden Barlow - who has worked with me on almost every major project to date. <3
To view in hi-res, Click here.
Behind the Scenes
For a fuller perspective of what the day was really like, check out this lovely behind the scenes video from the day, made by my close friend Chris Ricci, who is awesome: