I make sculpture as the way to grapple with the physical world around me. This sculpture, JEZEBEL, is from a 2017 series called The Reclamation Suite. The works reflect a practice exploring issues of gender, social role and identity. Altered stone, steel and mixed media are combined in works of human scale. Pneumatic and electric diamond bladed tools were used to carve, shape and rip each stone to recall a personal memory or point to an immediate experience. Each stone is then pinned on top of a mild steel, CAD plasma cut base plate with mig welded twisted legs, which were cold pressed on a Dake 25-ton hydraulic press. Varying heights and widths of these constructions create free-standing figures resting on a table or connecting to the floor.
Jezebel’s account is taken from the Biblical story in the Book of Kings in about 900 BC. The bible documents her story through the Hebrew side of things 200 years after her death, accusing her of murder, blasphemy and as usual – of being a harlot. Her husband- the king- wasn’t accused of these charges, only she. Jezebel was a migrant Phoenician princess of renowned beauty, having been married to the king of northern Israel as “a smart political maneuver”. She didn’t worship Yahweh, as was the overall trend in this region at the time. Her worship of the god, Baal, was a matriarchy as compared to the worship of Yahweh being a patriarchy. That seems like an important distinction to me. This period reads like a story out of The Game of Thrones – with murders, intrigues for power and deception all around. Sadly, Jezebel got on the wrong side of Elijah, the Hebrew prophet who prophesied that her husband’s lineage would end with him as retaliation to all of her crimes. She seemed like an easy target to me – with no history of adultery and believing another faith as an immigrant. We’ll never know what is true or invented as perhaps a teaching moment written years later for women to be forewarned in centuries to come.
So in the end, Elijah’s son storms the castle, having ordered her servants to throw her out the window to her death. Expecting this, she supposedly “painted her face” and put her jewels on, to go out like a queen- thus bringing on the harlot charge before she got trampled by horses and eaten by dogs, fulfilling Yahweh’s prophesy. Her ME, TOO moment came as the ultimate sacrifice, like many other women in history. So you see her here still standing- yet much worse for the trampling experience, with only a glimmer of her former renowned beauty and stature.
Come to The Skye Gallery tonight at 5pm to listen to all of the artist’s comments about this wonderful show highlighting Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The show is up until next week, so don’t miss it!