The Swan Maiden

RUN #:00372ch
Type:Ballpoint Pen, Watercolor + Colored Pencil On Fine Art Paper In Black Wood Frame
Size:27.5 x 35.5 x 1 Inches
Release:November 26, 2012
Run of:1
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Glass, Cinder & Thorns II
46 Artworks0 Available
"I was inspired to create my piece "The Swan Maiden" out of my love for tales of transformations and shape shifting, the idea of being able to shed your animal skin and take on a new form. My favorite fairy tales as a child were those about animal transformations, because I so wanted to be an animal myself. I loved the idea of selkies who could shed their seal skin and come on land in human form, but if anyone were to take their seal skin while they were out of it they could be controlled by that person until they could take their skin back. I loved the Swan Princess when I was a child, the Princess and the frog, The Brown Bear of Norway, The Six Swans, all stories where one of the characters is capable of transforming into a beast, be it of their own will or a wicked spell. I never wanted them to change back into humans, I always longed to be transformed myself, and was inevitably sad when the spell was broken and the hero was to remain forever human again. My piece is based on the myth of the swan maidens, it is not so much a particular story as a portrait of a mythical creature. Much like selkies, swan maidens can shed their animal skin and take on human form, but if a human man were to find their skin he could force the swan maiden to marry him. Invariably in fairy stories of this nature the captive woman usually bears the man children, and one day those children find the hidden skin, and the selkie or swan maiden or whatever mystical creature is being held, is able to at last escape. My piece "The Swan Maiden" reveals an escape cut short.

I have always been somewhat drawn to the more tragic elements of fairy tales, the grim beauty and noble sacrifice, or foolish deaths over foxfires and banshees. I was always touched by the story of Swan Lake, where in the end princess Odette and prince Siegfried decide to throw themselves over a waterfall and die in order to escape from the evil sorcerer Rothbart, and at last break his hold over Odette only in death. I wanted my painting to tie into that theme as well, one of noble yet tragic escape, and the idea that there is a steep price to pay to break a spell. " - Caitlin Hackett

This RUN comes signed by the artist along with an Original Artwork Letter of Provenance from 323East Gallery and 1xRUN.

ABOUT Caitlin Hackett:
"I grew up surrounded by redwood trees and mountains, by the cold Pacific Ocean and the endless fogs that come with living along the north Pacific current that comes down from Alaska. It was on the northern coast of California where I grew up that my love for nature, mythology and animals flourished. I spent my childhood hiking and camping and at a young age I was taught to respect and love the natural world. In my work I am giving an ode to the natural world I love, the forests and mountains that nourished the fantasies of my childhood.

My work alludes to the boundaries that separate humans from animals both physically and metaphysically, and how these boundaries are warped by new scientific data, mythology, history and religious beliefs alike, blurring the lines between us as science, religion and culture clash over what it is to be human, and thus, what separates us from the beasts of the wild.

I am fascinated by the way in which people personify or objectify animals; the way in which the human view of an animal can render it into an object of utility, or a trustworthy companion, or a monstrosity, regardless of that creatures true nature. It is this dichotomy that I aim to reveal in my work, the ‘real’ animal versus the abstract animal as it exists in the human mind, an animal mutated by social constructs and mythology alike. The symbolic meaning attributed to different species correlates directly with how they are treated in the real world; which creatures are protected and which are not, which are vilified, which are adored, and which are ignored altogether. Whether or not the symbolic meaning humanity has assigned any given species has any relation to reality is not important to most people, it’s the symbolism that matters, the ability to use the animal to suit our own needs, to reach our bottom line. We use the boundary between ‘us’ and ‘them’ to determine an animals fundamental worth, all based on our own desires. It is this process of transforming the animal that inspires my work, and gives it its often dark undertones.

I create pseudo-mythical, mutated, and anthropomorphic creatures using ballpoint pen and watercolor as my primary mediums, almost exclusively on paper. With my work I attempt to capture the often volatile human-animal relationship. I am faced with the fact that we live in a planet in decline, where nearly every natural ecosystem in the world is withering away. Human kind has created a planet of refugees; animals forced to flee ever farther from the insatiable encroachment of urban development, victims of a war for space which they cannot hope to win.

My drawings refer to this decline and to the refugees it has created. I am left with the question of what is natural; are we (human beings) still a part of nature? If so, does that make all that we have created, cities, vehicles, factories, all technology, part of nature as well? As we try to separate ever more from our primal nature, will we be able to still see and understand the importance of other animals and our relationship to them? " - Caitlin Hackett
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