medea by tj worthington
I had not thought of it before now, but I have a painting on the wall, a favorite that does not leave the house and has its place in my will that only itemized a few things. An heir gotta have it, can't live without it. Its conception came in reading. Visually, I was wanting to paint rock and wood. I call it Medea. Took it to the gallery soon after it was dry. Response by gallery director: "What is it?" First thought: He has to ask? I said, "It's called Medea. It's a piece of wood, a rock and plywood." I added, knowing already it was going to go zip over his head. "It is the moment she is making her decision to do what she has to do." He looked at me with a blank in his eyes. Unto that moment I felt like I was out of my league with this gallery. Having to explain Medea to an educated man who is apparently interested in the arts didn't feel right. I think he was most interested in being seen in an expensive sports car convertible. It just disappointed me. Living where I live in a culture that does not value education, reading or art, I've learned to explain things in the simplest terms. I felt like he was asking me to talk down to him and I wasn't comfortable doing that in the same way I'm not comfortable talking to adults who insist on being regarded like children. I left it there a month and brought it home. Brought everything home soon after. Not because of him, but because of a monthly seven hour round trip and being treated like a truck driver at that end. Since then, Medea doesn't leave the house. It may be my favorite piece of all I've done. I made a set-up with a piece of plywood behind, an orange rock with lichen all over one side and a piece of wood I'd found years before. Painted it black. It was the model for Medea. She was a sorceress, psychic with powers, a shaman from Turkey in the time long before the Ottoman Empire. I saw Medea pacing in a black robe glowing in moonlight, on a floor with lines, a stage. Behind her, a rock that looks like a freely-drawn version of the Greek archipelago. The lichen is the Mediterranean, the orange rock the islands. It's obvious the plywood is the night sky. I use the idea of sky from Tibetan paintings with flow lines. Plywood is nothing but flow lines. The full moon is the open mouth of the sky crying over what Medea is thinking. The painting itself is a stage set.
paolo pasolini's medea
I chose to paint Medea perhaps for the power of her story, my Goddess image. I love a good Greek tragedy. They are written so beautifully, writing and conception, they've not been matched except by Shakespeare and Samuel Beckett, maybe Harold Pinter, too, and Jean Anouilh. Allowing room for many I've never heard of. Just now had a thought of how I would compose Prometheus Bound. Christ on the cross was first image to flash in mind, Dali's crucifixion, suspended in space. Prometheus chained to a rock by a sentence from Zeus, to have an eagle tear him open and eat his liver every day in blazing sun. He heals overnight in the freezing cold. Prometheus hangs patiently, the god of foresight, knowing the day will come Zeus will need an answer to his question of who intends to overthrow him. Prometheus was chained to the rock for giving fire to the humans. From fire, reason evolved. Reason made the humans independent of the gods, a grievous act by Prometheus against the power of the gods. He pronounced it "thirteen generations" into the future Zeus would be compelled to release him for knowledge of who meant to overthrow him. I imagine electricity is the second fire, the new fire given humanity by Prometheus, telling me Prometheus is unbound. Mary Shelley titled her story about Dr Frankenstein, Prometheus Unbound. Her husband, Percy, also wrote about the unbinding of Prometheus in the time when electricity was the new discovery. We are in the beginnings of the new Promethean age, the Age of Electricity, the second fire, intuition. Intuition is next in our collective evolution, already begun, the next step toward full consciousness. The modern world all around the earth is the changes brought by electricity. We will always have electricity. It won't be generated like it is now. How we make electricity will evolve, is evolving. I feel like Prometheus' story is especially relevant to now. Today is conception day for some art object to make in near future inspired by Prometheus Bound.
I don't do that much, make an image from a story, Medea the only time I can think of that I have made an image from a story. Her husband, Jason of the Argonauts, was an ambitious Greek hotshot military officer. Medea was his wife, a Turk, eternal enemies of Greeks, and she was a sorceress, astrologer. She wore black gowns and gypsy earrings, long black hair, dark eyes. She knew her way around in the spirit world. Her psychic powers found for him the Golden Fleece, the reward for which was promotion to top dog in the Greek military, their version of the JCS in one. Jason and Medea had kids and were moving up in years, about the time a successful man finds a mistress. Jason lost his good sense over a babe. He wanted a divorce so he could marry her. Medea didn't take to the suggestion, but complied. She set her plot into motion agreeing to divorce so Jason could remarry, playing the role of friends after the divorce. She asked if she could make the wedding dress, a gesture of peace, giving her blessing to the union. She wove the cloth of phosphorous threads. At the I-do moment, Medea went Zap and the dress flashed in a white-light intense phosphorous fire and cremated babydoll at the pulpit. Before Medea went to the wedding she killed their kids. After babydoll went up in smoke, a chariot drawn by dragons came down from the sky, picked Medea up and took her back across the water to Turkey. The tragedy is Jason's. He survived alone, bereft. It is also Medea's tragedy in that she threw away all she loved in her revenge. A do-not-take-me-lightly kind of woman. She gave her man the honor and glory he wanted, and he betrayed her. Jason might have thought that one through a little better before taking up with a Norwegian hottie he met at the gym in a midlife crisis moment. He did know, after all, not to mess with Medea, or seems like. Brings to mind a movie I never want to see again, a feminine revenge story, reject it so much from my mind I forgot the name and the actress. Now it's back. Kathleen Turner, Body Heat. Thank you, Google. I have been uncomfortable seeing her in a film since. It disturbed me. Like the actor who played Ted Bundy in a movie, I cannot see him in anything since without discomfort, like he was Bundy himself. A testament to good acting.
Medea is a powerful story of the feminine, and I don't mean the dark side, except at the end. She was from a land rich in Neolithic archaeology where goddess figures are found everywhere. Medea was still with Goddess, may have been a goddess herself. She seems to me the fullness of the feminine, the light and the dark, the psychic powers, the willingness to give all in love, all that goes with goddess. Medea can truly say with conviction, I am woman. I'm recalling a saying I haven't heard in a long time, since before political correctness, Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Medea is the extreme of that aspect of the feminine. She's even such an extreme in love. She is the yin/yang, a balanced woman, a goddess. Medea was from the Age of Goddess in the patriarchal age. Women did not concede to men in the Goddess time like they do in the patriarchal time. Goddess is coming back and women are coming back, too, as full human beings with a choice of whether to attach self to a man for survival, or make it on her own, or in partnership with a man or woman, instead of subservience. I see Medea, herself, a woman who embodies the energies of the feminine a woman has to draw from. She's like the fullness of Goddess, all that is woman. Jason didn't know his good fortune. Aint that just like a man. Recalling a few years ago, I was with Justin who needed to see a guy he worked with on a Saturday for some reason I don't remember. A mother and son lived in the next trailer, the son not long out of prison; the windows had clear plastic duct-taped onto the frames, the exterior of the trailer showing what the inside looked like. They fought all the time, both drunks. We step into the trailer of Justin's friend; the guy's wife and two kids had just left him. Chainsaw on the living room shag carpet, and work boots. Empty beer cans lying about that hadn't found the way to the trash basket yet. Ashtrays full. Kitchen empty. Television going opposite the recliner. The guy was helpless. His purpose was gone. He didn't see in time to help himself that she was his purpose. He didn't appreciate that she washed his nasty underwear and socks. Another Jason who simply failed to get it. Wife goes back home to live with mama and daddy until she gets back on her feet. In him I saw a pitiful version of Jason, same story, not so Xtreme. Man doesn't get it; woman says, I'm outta here, whatever it takes.
nancy kovack as medea in jason and the argonauts