Erin Rae McKinney
Kenyon Class of ’15, Studio Art major
Riddle me this: Why are some stories of bravery heralded, and others silenced? Why are some mythologies told over others? This work aims to ask questions. Who are these figures I have drawn? Are they gods, people, saints? Inspired by the 11th century Irish Mythological, Fenian, and Patrician cycles, these are not explanatory images of any literal event or story, but their impressions.
In early Irish mythology, there is always a gray area, another perspective, and the Otherworld is never not present. I intend to evoke this mystic gray area, like the fog over the water and mountains in Ireland, by use of graphite and charcoal. These stories exist outside of linear time, being ever-changing, and of unknown age as an unbroken oral tradition, which I have represented through the theme of transformations and by giving my own interpretation of the stories through drawing. I invite the viewer to wonder what the symbols mean, as I have, and perhaps to look up a few of the breathtaking tales and find out for themselves. Gods, heroes, and spirits were among the earliest subjects of art and have had iterations in every movement. The beauty of mythological truth is its mutability and thereby its individualism: every version is true, and every narrator changes the story. The images therefore become like riddles: what emotional process is reflected in each transformation?
I fell in love with this body of literature during my three years away from Kenyon. Last summer, I attended the National University of Ireland, Galway, and will return in the fall to complete a Master’s degree in Irish Studies. These drawings are snapshots of new love, ardorous, naive and likely to change again and again as I learn to translate the myths for myself. For now, I can tell the stories visually. Trapped between languages, the visual language of art has stepped in like a world between worlds to bridge this gap in my understanding. I am telling you a story, but I will not spoil the ending.
–Erin Rae McKinney, ‘15