Kenyon College

Myth #1


Emily Zeller

Myth #1, 2011.

Part of the exhibition Not Only Natural.

Artist Statement:

My mother succumbed to cancer when I was eleven. I suddenly found myself with a father who knew nothing of raising a young girl, and coming-of-age in an environment removed from the influence and instruction of women. Though I didn’t think much of it at the time, this affected me greatly, and became the subconscious driving force behind this thesis, which addresses a personal relationship with the natural world, femininity, and coming-of-age in a patriarchal family. Only now have I begun to negotiate the relationship of my body and my self to others, and question my role.

I create my own unique interpretation of myth by combining different understandings of mythology, incorporating a synthesized definition to create multilayered meaning with roots in the greater feminine discourse. I draw from the Greek tradition of using supernatural stories to explain natural occurrences, creating alternative explanations of reality. From semiotic mythology, as explored by Stuart Hall and Roland Barthes, I use the personal and public connotations of an object beyond its surface, creating layered meaning deeper than the apparent action. From art and poems created by women about their own experiences, as described by Estella Lauter in Women as Mythmakers, I focus on personal relationship with the body, negotiating and understanding myself and my role in this world. Imbuing my videos with this mythic quality allows the objects and actions depicted to transcend their base meaning, opening them up for personal interpretation while creating a connection between the artist and audience.

Through my exploratory and playful working method I work out what objects and actions mean to me, as well as the other connotations they might have. My explorations evolve into performances where I am the person enacting the scene, working with and responding to the action I create. The final form is video, controlling the vantage point and framing of the performance, while adding the progression of time as a key element in the work.