Art Enables artists in collaboration with artist Steven Cushner
November 12, 2022 - January 28, 2023
For this exhibition, Art Enables artists worked in collaboration with DC artist Steven Cushner to illustrate their retelling of one of mythology’s most mistreated women – Medusa—and her would-be slayer—Perseus—trading wrath, misogyny, and violence for love, creativity, and inclusivity. We invite visitors to experience the artists' plot unfolding as they walk along an illustrated path hung with visual vignettes of the story. In our retelling, Medusa is not punished for violence committed against her. Our heroine is not interested in societal expectations of feminine beauty. Perseus is not a hulking, war-like hero but is instead a petite, gender-fluid fashion designer inspired by Medusa’s strength and individuality. Come for the lack of beheading and stay for Pegasus, diamond swords, and magical tattoos! In Art Enables’ colorful retelling, love wins, and different is beautiful.
See the exhibition in person on weekdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
MEDUSA & PERSEUS: a retelling
In ancient Greece, there was a woman named Medusa. She was one of three Gorgon sisters who all worked together in the Temple of Athena. Her sisters Stheno and Euryale were immortal monsters with serpent bodies, sharp teeth, and snakes for hair. They were said to be so terrifying that anyone who looked into their eyes would turn to stone!
Medusa herself was a regular, mortal woman. Everyone thought she was very beautiful.
Medusa and her sisters loved each other very much. Stheno and Euryale want Medusa to be immortal like them so they could all be together forever. Medusa wanted the same thing. She did not care about conventional beauty. Medusa thought her sisters were beautiful and powerful. She admired them.
One day, the sisters asked Athena if she would grant them a wish in return for being faithful servants. They asked Athena to transform Medusa into an immortal monster like them. Athena agreed, and changed Medusa into an immortal like her sisters, with a serpent body, green skin, and snakes for hair.
Medusa felt happy and strong. She could now be with her sisters forever and help protect them from people who would try to hurt them.
Athena also gave Medusa other gifts: swords with diamond blades, and a pet ferret who also had snake hair.
Medusa found she had the ability to change people not only into stone, but into things like: birds, fish, bears, butterflies, mushrooms, crystals, flowers, ghosts, monsters, brains, gold, water, cockroaches, trees, elephants, angels, rainforests, jello molds, and demons. Medusa’s eyes changed color when she used this power.
People became even more fearful of the Gorgon sisters than they were before. Would-be heroes often attacked and tried to slay them. They were all transformed into stone and countless other objects and creatures under the powerful eyes of Medusa and her sisters.
At the top of a mountain on a far-off island lived Perseus. Perseus was born a man but thought of themselves as neither man nor woman. Perseus felt they were both and neither. We use the words “they” and “them” when talking about Perseus instead of “he” and “him”. Perseus was a demi-god, which means they were half god and half human. Perseus was dark-skinned and short (5’4”) with short, curly hair and glasses. They had magical tattoos which were always changing into different images.
Perseus had a great gift in life: they were a brilliant fashion designer. They always wore beautiful, creative, surprising dresses and other clothing that they made themselves. Perseus was tired of living on a small island where they couldn’t share their designs with more people.