Pomegranate Skull

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Pomegranate SkullArtist’s Statement: Growing up, I had always found a fascination with Greek mythology. I constantly read books related to the different stories of gods and goddesses, and I always eagerly learned about the myths themselves. Out of all the myths I read about, I developed a fondness particularly for the myths of Hades and Persephone. In the iteration of their story that I grew up reading, Hades, brother of Zeus and Poseidon and God of the Underworld, instantly fell in love with Persephone, the goddess of spring, the moment that he saw her. He and Zeus devised a plan to lure Persephone away from her mother, Demeter, and into the underworld so she could be with Hades. Persephone was resistant once in the Underworld, and Hades was reluctant to let her return to her mother; however, after Demeter begged Hades to let Persephone go, he allowed her to live in the land of the living for half of the year and return to the Underworld for the second half. Before Persephone leaves, Hades persuades her to eat four seeds of a pomegranate. The pomegranate represents a bind tied between Persephone and Hades, and so, by eating the seeds, Persephone unintentionally ensured that she was doomed to return to the Underworld after her time in the living has run out. While their story was typically told in association with the changing of the seasons, I have grown to focus on the manipulative nature of this “love story”—the abuse of power and loss of autonomy. Years after I created this print, it holds more relevance in my life than ever. I have wondered at times if the knowledge of her cursed fate ate at Persephone after she consumed the pomegranate seeds. There have been moments in my life where I have felt the shackles of a soured memory clinging to me wherever I go, just as Persephone might have, knowing that she must return to the world of the dead. By using pomegranates in this piece, I reflect upon what they serve as a symbol, perhaps for both Persephone and me, as we learn to live with the things that haunt us.

Isabella Barbaria is a member of the class of 2024 at Needham High School in Needham, Massachusetts. They spend most of their time outside of class participating in the high school theater productions, working, playing video games with their partner, and creating art for their portfolio! In the past year they have been working on their crocheting skills and have even gotten commissions from peers!