Artist: Kiki Smith
Title of Work: Europa
Plate Dimensions: 21″x 29 1/4″x 3/8″
Material: Printed book
Photo Line: Graphicstudio, University of South Florida
Collection Credit: Courtesy of Graphicstudio, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Since the 1990s, Smith has used celestial imagery in many of her works. Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, was named by Galileo after a lover of the Greek god Zeus. Due to the smooth texture and youth of the moon Europa, it is believed that an ocean may lie beneath its surface, a breeding ground for new life. The raised twin images of Europa in this print are similar to breasts, further commenting on the desirability and fecundity of the mythic maiden. Mythology and fertility are major themes throughout Kiki Smith’s work.
The Abduction of Europa
The daughter of the Phoenician King Agenor, Europa was a beautiful maiden. One day, while picking flowers by the sea, Zeus, the king of the Greek gods, saw and fell in love with her. Zeus appeared to Europa in the form of a white bull. Entranced by his beauty she adorned him with flowers and climbed upon his back. Suddenly, the bull charged into the sea, carrying Europa with him to the island of Crete. She became one of Zeus’s many lovers, eventually giving birth to a number of his sons, including King Minos. Zeus made Europa the Queen of Crete and created the constellation Taurus, the bull, to commemorate their love.
–Sophia Yablon ’12, Gund Gallery Associate