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Monday, June 10, 2013

Goodbye, Mermaid Madonna!

Mermaid Madonna and her little Mer-baby.
The Mermaid Madonna left my studio today, bound for Stonington, ME, where she will be sold in the Penobscot East Resource Center’s 4th Annual Lobster Buoy and Reverse Auction.

Penobscot East Resource Center works to rebuild a small-scale diversified fishery where fishermen and their communities are a part of the governance of fishing. They serve 50 communities from Penobscot Bay to the Canadian border. This is the most fishery-dependent stretch of the East Coast.

I seldom get attached to my work, but the Mermaid Madonna resonated with me. The Mermaid herself is based on Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann’s Havfrue (1873), and her tiny son is just a confection from my mind. The Mermaid Madonna’s tail wraps all the way around the buoy to touch her baby’s tail. A lone lobsterman works in the distance.

Front view of the Mermaid Madonna.
The baby’s hair, I decided, needed to be the seaweed equivalent of a towhead, so I painted it a brilliant green, low on the back of his head where baby hair first comes in. And his little Mer-bottom was great fun to paint.

Side view showing the Mermaid Madonna's tail reaching around to touch her baby.
When I was first asked to paint this buoy, I was completely stumped for a subject. A seascape on a buoy would be predictable coming from me, I thought. I pondered the primordial Greek sea goddess Thalassa (Θάλασσα) as a subject.  From there, mermaids were the next logical step.

A lone lobsterman working in the distance on the back of the buoy.
“So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.And God saw that it was good.” (Gen 1:21)

A few years ago, we had a young woman living with us named Abi; she was obsessed with drawing mermaids. I tried to get her to diversify, but now I owe her an apology; mermaids can easily become an obsession.

Packing her was almost as difficult as painting her, but I figured that mounting the buoy on two pieces of plywood would keep it stable in its box... which was marked in huge letters, "Fragile!" With all the rain and dampness we've had, the buoy still wasn't completely dry.
I’m confident my Mermaid Madonna will go to a good home, but if you want to bid on her, contact Penobscot East Resource Center here and ask them how you can place a remote bid in the auction.

August and September are sold out for my workshop at Lakewatch Manor in Rockland, ME.  Join us in June, July and October, but please hurry! Check here for more information.

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