MARY SEES MERRY SEAS
This composition attempts to capture the conflicting views of women as alluring objects of worship and of desire, be they emblems of potential salvation or destruction.
In the center, a sailor with his back to us stands in a capsizing rowboat whose exposed frame is echoed by the ballet dancers’ limbs surrounding his torso. He is caught between a woman’s lips and her hand, curled as it lights a cigarette. Above him, a dispassionate woman looks down, the embracing arms of a saint emerging from her lowered lids. Fragile telephone lines running left to right before her visage mimic the stormy motion of the sea.
On the upper right, a bishop’s staff encircling a statue of Mary loops through the prow of a Viking ship and leads our eye to a nude lying on a blanket.
An estoque and banderillas pierce a rose-colored bougainvillea petal, paper-thin and heart-shaped.
Shipwrecks abound, tossed by seas and, in the upper left, one is crushed by a spiral staircase wave.
Among them, a petrified face (center left) peers out from beneath arms raised in alarm as a stone snake slithers away, courtesy of Bernini’s central sculpture in Piazza Navone. The snake winds its way to the lower right, where it encircles a green apple, evoking the temptation of Eve. Note that the apple’s green leaf morphs into a woman’s lips.
Beneath the apple and snake, a panicked castaway struggles up from a wreck, pulling himself up on a net that blends with a woman’s hair.
At the bottom of the composition, a First Communion procession marches across a telescope representing vision, clarity, and balance. To the left of the eyepiece, a nuclear sub emerges from the waves in a woman’s arms while, further left, a dismembered Christ in a tortoise shell rests in the palm of a female saint’s hand as it holds a sailboat wrecked on a rock.