Go to any major museum and you see art based on mythology, from the Renaissance to modern times. Nobody knows why. in Goddesses and Monsters at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, Monica Zeringue’s spectacular graphite drawings - nude self portraits of the artist in various mythic guises - may offer some clues even as they evoke contemporary performance art. In Cloak (pictured), she appears on all fours in a lion’s skin a la Hercules. This marks a big departure from earlier drawings based on her more introverted schoolgirl self, which resurfaces in her Ophelia Descendingdrawing in this show. Inspired by John Millais’ great painting of a drowning Ophelia, Zeringue’s version depicts childlike images of herself entangled in a waterfall of hair, the main element in her earlier work. Hair suggests the tangled currents of the psyche, but in these new drawings she’s having a better, or at least bolder, hair day. In Hide and Seek she appears as twin women with many arms like those multilimbed east Asian deities, only here they seem to be questioning each other.
Myths linger because they distill essential human traits, for better or worse, so they epitomize aspects of who we are inside. In this show, Zeringue takes off - in all sorts of ways - like the eagle in the Prometheus legend.
Written by D. Eric Bookhardt