Oshun or Ochun in Yoruba mythology is an Orisha (spirit-goddess), goddess of love, intimacy, beauty, pleasure and sensuality, sex, female power and fertility.
She is associated with the colors yellow and gold. The peacock feathers, the fan and flowing water are some of her attributes – symbols.
In one of the myths, Oshun’s early life was riddled with poverty and tragedy. In her impoverished state, she became a prostitute in an attempt to sustain her hungry children. When the other Orishas found out that she was prostituting herself, they took her children away from her and Oshun became temporarily insane. During this unfortunate time in her life, Ochun owned only one dress and it was white. Out of self respect, Ochun went to the rivers everyday and washed her only dress. With all of the washing and wearing, the dress eventually turned yellow. It is therefore that Ochun is associated with the color yellow and is often depicted wearing a yellow dress.
I syncretized Oshun with the ancient Greek goddess of beauty, Aphrodite (Venus) and I am making an allusion to “The Birth of Venus” by Botticelli, where the goddess emerges from the sea, standing on a sea-shell.
The text on the artwork reads: “I can love you or fuck you, please you or bleed you, feed you or starve you. Call me virgin. Call me prostitute”. This text refers to the facts that:
1. Oshun is associated with many lovers and husbands, but above all she is a woman, a mother and a patron of love.
2. Oshun is a goddess who is both loved and feared: Possessed of a terrible temper, her moods are changing.
This text is also an ode to all women, as bearers of life, nourishers, protectors of life and free persons.
- Some parts of the text are inspired/adapted from the lyrics of the song “For women” by Ursula Rucker
- The pose is inspired by a vintage photo: