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"Abduction of Persephone" section 2 of diptych by Alice McMahon

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"Abduction of Persephone" section 2 of diptych by 


charcoal on prepared board, 30 × 19″ for 33 Contemporary Gallery, to be exhibited in Turin, Italy in the spring and summer of 2012
Based on a poem by
Edna St. Vincent Millay –
Prayer to Persephone
Be to her, Persephone,
All the things I might not be:
Take her head upon your knee.
She that was so proud and wild,
Flippant, arrogant and free,
She that had no need of me,
Is a little lonely child
Lost in Hell,—Persephone,
Take her head upon your knee:
Say to her, “My dear, my dear,
It is not so dreadful here.”
the essential message of the poem—the idea of a queen of life and death so gracious that she sees every frightened child—even ones that won’t always admit they need help—as worthy of her time and affection.
The abduction of the goddess Persephone and the mythological “reason for the seasons”
The maiden Persephone is picking narcissus flowers in a field and the earth suddenly opens before her and Hades, god of the underworld, rides up on his chariot and abducts her. The story of Persephone is also the story of her mother, Demeter, goddess of the harvest. When she learns of Persephone’s disappearance, she does what any mother would do: search high and low for her, and when she cannot find any trace of her, is wracked with grief. She takes out her anger on the mortal world over which she presides and causes winter to come over the land. It is said by The Fates that whoever consumes food or drink in the underworld is doomed to spend eternity there. Upon eating six pomegranate seeds, Persephone unknowingly binds herself to the realm of Hades and must stay one month in the underworld for each seed she has eaten. Ascalaphus was an underworld daemon who managed the orchards of Hades. When he reported to the god that Persephone had tasted of the pomegranate seed, the angry Demeter buried him beneath a rock. Later Ascalaphus was released from this prison, but the goddess transformed him into a screech-owl. Because of her mother’s status, Persephone is allowed to live half of the year on earth with her. Demeter rejoices to be reunited with her child and spring returns to the land.
Like all great myths, this one transcends time and cultures and speaks to the depths of human existence. It also strikes a deep chord in my life at the present moment. I thoroughly understand Demeter’s grieving and desperate point of view, as a mother of young adults who have starting their leave-taking. Many times as my children have raged and pushed me away in the throes of their coming of age, I have had to remind myself that this is normal; this is what they must do. I try not to take the battles personally, and I see that they are going through the painful process of expressing and finding their authentic selves. They must push me away; and I must allow it. At some point we are called to the journey, to become the heroine in our own lives and take a bite of what life has to offer.

Tags

persephone, demeter, hades, owl, pomegranate, birch, trees, screech owl, winter, spring, myth, mythology, alice, mcmahon, bat, moth, worm

I specialize in figurative charcoal drawing. My work was recently shown and sold at the Saatchi Gallery in London. Current works delve into the realm of symbolism and magic realism.
All of my drawings are meant to be noble representations of individual subjects, and also bring together a wealth of influences, recognition of art history and myth and a contemporary attitude to create images that are of the moment, but hopefully will also remain relevant in the future.

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Comments

  • WonderlandGlass
    WonderlandGlassover 2 years ago

    the timeless struggles twixt parent and child are a double-edged sword that cuts to the heart as the ties are cut… but speaking from my experiences… the joy that follows as one watches the child grow and bloom is worth the struggle and the pains of the cutting… liberating to both parent and child… as I know you are knowing in your wise and caring heart, dear friend. We send wishes for ever-growing Peace;-}

  • artisandelimage
    artisandelimageover 2 years ago

  • Tom McCleary
    Tom McClearyover 2 years ago

    Remarkable drawing. Congratulations.

  • lindybird
    lindybirdover 2 years ago

    Your work is spellbinding, Alice. We miss you much.

  • Thank you Linda, and for your Facebook note as well. It has been a very difficult year but I see a glimmer at the end of the tunnel. Hope you are doing well! xx

    – Alice McMahon

  • Leslie Gustafson
    Leslie Gustafsonover 2 years ago

  • Barssel
    Barsselover 2 years ago

  • Sarah  Mac
    Sarah Macover 2 years ago

    She’s beautiful. Such lovely art!

  • Madalena Lobao-Tello
    Madalena Lobao...over 1 year ago

    Great work, love how you have done this!!!

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