My creature for BlueLucy Ybor’s Creature Feature.
For the Creature Feature exhibit at BlueLucy Ybor, 21 artists were asked to select a mythical creature to portray in a piece of artwork. For me, the choice wasn’t easy, as the list was full of creatures that I would have loved to do a version of. The obvious choice would have been a unicorn, but obvious is no fun. Instead, I chose the Vodyanoy, a male water-spirit from Slavic fairy tales. What drew me to this particular creature was the amount of green I knew I’d be able to use in the piece and the region from which that story originates.
Vodyanoy is described as a water-spirit with the face of a frog, the body of an old man and a green beard. He is blamed for all types of water related destruction, from the breaking of dams to drownings. Various countries in Europe, especially those of Eastern Europe, have some sort of Vodyanoy fairy tale. There are slight variations between spellings of his name and physical descriptions of him in the different countries, but he is still credited with the same types of actions.
The spelling Vodyanoy is apparently of Russian origin, but I chose to incorporate elements from a number of descriptions. In Czech accounts, the spirit drowns people, then keeps his victims’ souls in lid-covered porcelain cups. I opted to incorporate that into the underwater portion of the piece. By making the water translucent, I’ve given people a view into the world of the Vodyanoy, a world only seen by his victims.
Germany also has it’s own variation on this particular fairy tale. The frame and overall feel of the piece was inspired by German art and architecture, specifically the work of the brothers Grimm and Black Forest style architecture. I wanted the image to “feel” like a page from a Grimm’s Fairy Tale. Many of their stories were set in the Black Forest region of Germany, which is also referenced in the piece by the dark forest in the background. The triangular panel, shingled frame and decorative trim are all inspired by both Black Forest houses and the renowned cuckoo clocks from that region.
This piece was a definite challenge, as I deviated further from my normal approach than I have in a while. Omitting symmetry, limiting my color palette, leaving no exposed wood sections, using a triangular painting surface and creating a sculptural frame made this not only made this a fun exercise in breaking away from the comfort of my usual way of doing things. Recently, I’ve taken more risks with my work in the name of learning challenging myself. Without challenge you can’t learn, without learning there can be no progress and without progress, their is only stagnancy…and that’s gross. There was definitely a good amount of learning and growth that came out of this piece.