This week at the SOA Galleries I got the chance to view art by Rhiannon Aarons, a student currently in the MFA program at CSULB. She has been interested in art for 17 years now. Her show Ex Libris was featured in the Gatov West gallery. When I first saw her artwork, before knowing what it was about, I thought of Greek Mythology. I’m not sure why I instantly thought of greek myth but her art does, in some ways, reflect the time of the Hellenestic period.
Rhiannon created different series’ of work. One of them was Hecate. The Hecate depicts an anatomic rendering of the skull of a goddess. In these 3 prints she used the drypoint technique which is a method of intaglio printing that creates marks that fade slightly due to the matrix wearing down each print. The marks created are to be interpreted as ephemeral and organic. In her other series, Serpents, the prints are made digitally. They were created using scans of illustrations from original anatomy and zoology books published in the late 1800’s. The scale of these prints are established relative to the measurements of Rhiannon’s body. Once images are enlarged, digital artifacts fuse to the lines of the original woodblock.
Rhiannon wrote in her artist statement that a book, The Clitoral Truth, written by Rebecca Chalker, explains how the contemporary understanding of the the female anatomy was deeply flawed. These “flawed’ anatomy books relied on illustrations that were printed using wood engraving creating a distinct line quality. The engravings were then electroplated further altering the image. It is said that the mark is what dispersed the myth. In Ex Libris, Rhiannon put this theory to the test. In Hecate, the structure of the marks left on the print serves as an allegory to a life cycle. In Serpent, the anatomy for the creatures was based on the serpent from the Garden of Eden. Rhiannon chose the 3 prints because they all depicted the serpent as specifically feminine which is contrary to the Biblical description.
I never realized how the female anatomy has been flawed over the years so this specific information in the art was very eye-opening. As a female, it is interesting to see something related to my well being be so obscured. I enjoyed viewing Rhiannon’s art especially since it included mythical creatures. I really enjoy learning about mythology, mostly Greek myth. I enjoyed Rhiannon’s work and the information that came along with it. Even if I couldn’t relate directly to the message I related indirectly towards it and that’s better than not being able to relate at all.
Rhiannon Aarons can be found at: