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St. Persephone (Medical Trials of the Saints)

This hand-colored photograph shows a child Persephone surrounded by flowers, her mouth and hands stained with pomegranate juice. Visually, it is in dialog with the photographic collage-and-watercolor techniques developed and shared by Victorian women.

For the youngest member of MANDEM, this self-portrait reflects an intense interest in nature, in collecting and arranging flowers, and in the story of the girl-child who came to control the seasons by transcending borders. For the elder MANDEM(s), it discusses a painful awareness of how winter (both literal and metaphorical) can seize a person and pull them out of the world for months at a time — and the difficulty of surrendering to that inevitability, of breaking open a celebratory pomegranate and facing the Underworld that needs our strength just as surely as the surface world does.

May St. Persephone bring solace to those in isolation, those unable to visit loved ones, and those cut off from the world and comforts they've known. Like Persephone's absence is a promise that springtime will return, your physical distance gives the gift of future life.

And for those who will soon journey into the Underworld, may you be filled with St. Persephone's resolve and fearlessness.

Mandem


["St. Persephone" was to premiere at The Gallery at Lakeland in Kirtland, Ohio, for an exhibit from April–May, 2020, curated by Mary Urbas, but which closed before the opening reception due to the COVID-19 state of emergency.]