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Group of Greek Gods: Cartapesta Sculpture

17 May


Orpheus, Ares, Eros, Hermes, Aphrodite and Omphale

As I decide which pieces to include in the show,  these sculptures appear and disappear, in different arrangements in my studio.

I wait for the idea to consolidate, for the grouping and composition  to settle  in my brain.




12 May

Right now finishing the “inside skin” of male and female sections of sculpture.
In the myth 15-year old Hermaphroditus undressed and entered an empty pool. A Nymph, Salmacis, sprang out from behind a tree and jumped into the pool. She wrapped herself around the boy, forcibly kissing him and touching his breast. While he struggled, she called out to the gods that they should never part. Her wish was granted, and their bodies blended into one form, “a creature of both sexes.”

Aphrodite Cartapesta Sculpture: First Announcement

26 Apr

Yesterday I sent out email announcements to my friends in Pittsburgh, people I have known for quite a while and who live close enough to Saxonburg to drive out for the opening reception on 21 July. I chose  images of Aprhrodite.

Here the sculpture is turned on its side. You can see the tail-- somewhat mermaid-like. Aphrodite emerged from sea foam. On the back is close-up of "Eve" , a Christian incarnation of Aphrodite; detail of writing.

Cartapesta Sculpture of Greek Gods: Omphale, Queen of Lydia

17 Apr
copyright April 2012 Palamidessi

Omphale, an earth Goddess and powerful Queen, took Hercules, the Strongest Man in the World, as her lover.

In progress, this sculpture generated many associations. Omphale is the feminine form of the Greek word for “umbilicus.”  So from there…

Navel. Connection between worlds. Omphalas, the center of the Greek world. Transition. Wormhole between earth and sky. Life and death. Protoplasm and flesh. Mother and child. Nourishment. A hole. Butterflies, too: omphale, and psuedoomphale, butterflies, both with dots.

For a while I was a volunteer at Boston’s Museum of Science and worked in the Butterfly Room, so I had butterfly mojo.

FRONT OF SCULPTURE: From those intuitive and intellectual ideas, I began to draw butterflies on the blank cartapesta, which had been cast over my model’s lower torso.

Then there was the story of Queen of Lydia (the Kingdom of Lydia is where modern-day Turkey is now) and it was a very sexy story. The back of the sculpture became a platform for sex talk, between Hercules and Lydia.

BACK OF SCULPTURE: Lydia was an earth goddess who acquired Hercules as a slave.  She bought him from the god Hermes. Hercules, you see, wanted to purify himself after having had killed his friend Iphitus, so he allowed himself to be sold: a great insult for a god.

Once ensconced in Lydia’s court, Hercules held the yarn while Lydia and her female slaves spun it into cloth.  He  did whatever this woman commanded of him–including fathering children with here maids.  He and Lydia had a peculiar habit of role reversal and cross-dressing. Hercules, the Strongest Man in the World,would wear negligee, girdles, yellow pajamas and have his hair braided and perfumed by Lydia’s maid servants. Lydia the Queen wore her lover’s lion skin and carried his club.

I assumed it was an experimental. fun, and polyamourous few years and that is what I wrote about on the back of the sculpture.

A small book covered it with animal hide, like Hercule’s garment, is affixed to the back of the sculpture. In it, there’s a story about another escapade–Pan visiting Lydia’s castle. Pan you know, is a rascal. He arrived long after midnight and wanted a roll in the sack with the queen.  He went into her bedroom, reached under the sheets, felt silky negligee , and –yes, you guessed it–he ended up having sex with Hercules. This upset Pan , the god of the wild and music, whose lower body was the hindquarters of a goat: homosexual love was not his cup of tea.  He made a rule: from then on anyone who partied with him or participated in his nocturnal forest rites had to do it naked.

Cartapesta Color: Under Painting and Top Painting

10 Apr

I am winding up work on this sculpture.But who knows??!! The sculpture may call for another brushstroke, an edge adjustment, a little tweak of word.

Here are images to show lovely surface of the cartapesta ( Italian word for paper mache/  technique I learned in Italy).

Eros the blue

Nike Goddess of Victory: Good Luck Mediator between Gods and Men.

9 Apr

With Victory beside her she is already a winner.

When I built this sculpture of Nike, my daughter was in my mind everyday. She was  going through a challenging patch, looking for a job, spending months and many hours searching for a job, emailing resumes, answering ads, going on “phone interviews”, maybe being called back for second interviews but most often not. When I finished this sculpture, my daughter had a job; a very good job at that.

Synchronicity had happened. I was working with an archetype and through art and that archetype reached into the deeper order of life.  Grace intervened.

It is my wish that anyone who might possesses this sculpture wil enjoy its beauty and have tremendous luck.

Cupid Is Eros, Bolt of Blue

2 Apr
back of cupid before finishing

BACK of Eros in progress

FRONT of my Eros, all blue, the loosener of limbs,
A bittersweet, sly, uncontrollable creature….

The past few days I’ve been working on the back of this sculpture… paint, words, paper, glue; typing, blocking adding color.

In the end he will  hold a quiver ( being made by Boston leather artist Jessica Caruso) and two or three arrows.

Here are a few stanzas from the poem that accompanies the sculpture:

I want it!

Reach back into your quiver
and pluck the golden one with
dove’s feathers,
the arrow whose wound inflicts
love, lust, longing.

Let your quick fingers bypass the
leaden arrow winged with
owl feathers. Not for me:

It will strike the heart with complacency
contentment and a fat behind, making
a mere mortal like me reel with indifference.


Four Beginning Steps to Building Christine’s Book Sculpture

15 Mar

Copyright 2012, christine palamidessi

Many more steps follow the first four. Edging ( very time consuming) and painting, for instance. First I block out color patterns. Of course the words: all along, while I am building the sculpture, I am also writing, writing, writing what will be written on the front and back.  In this case I have 2 fronts and 2 backs. Not sure yet, but suspect on this piece, writing will be minimal. The sculpture will talk to me & let me know.
Two Sisters Do Art

Christine and Pamela Palamidessi

Kristen Lamb

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