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Circe casts a spell on Eastern’s Art Gallery

Published on December 13, 2023

Circe casts a spell on Eastern’s Art Gallery

circe lead
'Medea Escaping' by Marilyn Belford, on display in the Art Gallery

The Art Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University recently installed its newest exhibition, “Circe: A Goddess of Our Time.” The exhibition, named after the New York Times bestselling novel “Circe” by Madeline Miller, will be on display until April 12, 2024.

The exhibition is part of Eastern’s “Big Read” award, a program sponsored by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. This year's program focuses "Circe."

Through the use of mixed-media compositions, the exhibition traverses a variety of artistic mediums. Art Gallery Director Julia Wintner explained that the exhibition serves as a vessel for female artists to share their stories of empowerment while simultaneously capturing Circe’s.

“This exhibition joins Circe, Miller, and the artists from a long line of feminist activists who have deployed the magic of words and imagery to communicate and inspire,” said Wintner. “Like Circe, they are also sorcerers whose art casts a spell on us: healers of our confused bodies and minds; guides on our journey toward the light.”

"Circe" by Norma Minkowitz

"My Cup Runneth Over" by Norma Minkowitz

"Walking Through My Winter Garden" by Norma Minkowitz

The titular Circe, originally from Homer’s “Odyssey,” is depicted by Miller as a maverick goddess of witchcraft. “From her story, we learn that it is possible to rewrite the centuries of mythology that have promoted and defended gender hierarchies,” said Wintner. “In a similar fashion, the artists in this exhibition challenge this same mythology with a celebration of female power.”

The featured artists for the exhibition are June Ahrens, Emma Amos, Marilyn Belford, Lesley Dill, Mary Beth Edelson, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, Norma Minkowitz, Ree Morton and Grace Wapner.

Norma Minkowitz showcases two sculptures and a wall piece. As a fiber artist, she incorporates her skills in crochet, knitting and sewing into her work. Conceptually, her inspiration is rooted in “the traditional mysteries of nature as well as human nature.”

“I am consistently using fiber as line. In my sculptural work I use fiber as a means of expressing my commitment to containment, sequence and the passage of time.” said Minkowitz. “My love for drawing with pen and ink is apparent in my sculptures and wall works as the lines of fiber mimic the hesitations, irregularities and cross-hatching of my pen-and-ink drawings.”

"Generations" by June Ahrens

"Letting Go" by June Ahrens

"Looking Back" by June Ahrens

"Years–1963, 1964, 1969" by June Ahrens

June Ahrens has four emblematic pieces featured in the gallery, with each piece constructed out of fragmented blue glass along with found materials such as barbed wire and felt. According to her, her work frequently addresses issues of “fragility, vulnerability, danger and healing,” which she related to Circe’s story.

“The use of manufactured or found materials is seductive and feeds my focus on danger, beauty, darkness and reflected light,” said Ahrens. “For me, Madeline Miller’s adaptation of “Circe” continues to influence our thinking and actions as women in the arts and beyond.

Written by Elisabeth Craig

Categories: Art Gallery, Arts