Venus on the Road Again

Installation by Neda Miranda Blazevic-Krietzman, 1994 (Campus of St. Catherine Univesity, St. Paul, MN)

As a child, I was fascinated by Greek mythological stories in which many adventurous, good and evil gods and goddesses express their supernatural powers in duels with each other and humans. One of the good and adventurous Greek goddesses is Aphrodite, a goddess of love and beauty. Her name comes from the Greek word aphros, foam, and indicates that she, the daughter of Zeus and Dione, sprang from the sea into the human world. Aphrodite was declared by both the Greek gods, goddesses and humans as the most beautiful woman in “the heavens and the world.”
The Romans adopted the whole Pantheon of Greek gods and goddesses, giving them Roman names. Aphrodite became Venus. The famous statue of Aphrodite, a topless and armless woman, draped from the hips to her feet, was discovered in 1820 by a peasant farmer in a grotto on the isle of Melos in Greece. Aphrodite came to the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, as Venus of Milo. It is not certain who sculpted Aphrodite-Venus, but some documents claim that it was “a sander from Antioch” who lived about 100 B.C.E.
I saw the white marble statue of Venus of Milo for the first time in the Louvre in 1972. I was fascinated by her heroic size; calm and beautiful face; lush hair combed over her neck; nude, athletic torso; wide hips and strong legs; and bare feet. And although Venus is handicapped (no one knows how she lost her arms), I saw in her serious-looking yet soft face and eyes, and the full, yet graceful figure, one of the best qualities of every woman: confidence. Confidence is a feeling of one’s powers, ability to succeed, and approach risks fearlessly. Throughout the last two centuries, Venus has become an alter-ego and representative of every woman. Her simultaneously refined and robust beauty celebrates both a woman’s character and physicality.
In 1994, I had an exhibition of paintings and installations at the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery on St. Kate’s campus. The title of my exhibition was Dreams, Analysis and Cappuccino. Obviously, the analysis of my dreams and life experiences of a traveler were the grounds for my work. (Up until 1994, I used to drink cappuccino every day, but I stopped because caffeine isn’t good for my heart. This is the reason why the word cappuccino appeared in the exhibition’s title.) So, when I was thinking of how to bring to life my interpretation and vision of Venus, the statue that influenced some important decisions in my life (remember the confidence?), I remembered how statues, just like people, travel from one museum/place to another, carrying in their appearances their cultural identities, suspenseful beauty and originality.
Statues usually travel in wooden crates that protect them from breaking. So, I put my Venus, made of cement, into a wooden crate because she is on the road for almost two centuries, and I wanted her to feel safe and protected. The crate is not a prison, as some might say, but Venus’ home; a room of her own. (Remember Virginia Woolf?)

Neda Miranda Blazevic-Krietzman

© Copyright Neda Miranda Blazevic-Krietzman