visual metaphor copy.jpg
visual metaphor copy.jpg

For this project you have been asked to work with the idea of a visual metaphor and mythology. Think of visual metaphors as visual symbolism, where the image symbolizes something else. A metaphor by definition is a comparison that doesn't use like or as, but rather compares one thing to another through language. CLICK HERE FOR SOME METAPHOR EXAMPLES.

Choose a myth to develop into your visual metaphor. You will be creating a modern interpretation of classical and cultural myths. Here is some more information on how myths can be interpreted in art.

See the list below for some possible examples of Mythology and how you can interpret that idea. Use Adobe Photoshop to enhance the metaphor/myth you’ve chosen. Your final print will be an 8 x 10 inch single image that expresses the overall metaphor.

Go beyond trite (overused) images and associations like love is symbolized by a red heart, or the "eyes are the window to the soul" with a big close up of an eye. These visual metaphors have been done over and over.

IDEAS for Project to get you started on BRAINSTORMING

  • Retell a classic myth that explains something about the modern world. EXAMPLE: Where all the digital data actually goes when it's stored in the cloud? What is the cloud really?
  • Pandoras box is reopened. What modern world problems are contained within? EXAMPLE: ebola epidemic
  • Create a work of art about a modern god; Example: Tony, the god of parking, guides me to empty spaces in crowded lots, closest to where I need to be.

Click here to see a pinterest board about Mythology in art

Create a work of art about a mythical creature that lives in your community. Example: The Philadelphia Phrox (halfox, half frog) gathers materials for public art projects for artists who believe and lure him with cheese steaks.

mythology animals copy.jpg
mythology animals copy.jpg

The American Horror Story Title sequences hint at the content of the series, through the power of metaphor and suggestion. Very powerful stuff.

Mythology in Art: Click here to see examples of Art that utilizes ancient mythology for inspiration.

Artists like Andy Goldsworthy, Maggie Taylor, Jerry Uelsmann, Sandy Skoglund,John Paul Caponigro, Juliann Kost, Jason deCaires Taylor all work with the idea of visual metaphor. Some of them like Andy Goldsworthy and Jason deCaires Taylor work with the environment and sculptures and then photograph the results of this juxtaposition.

Check out the amazing work of these artists and see what you like.

Andy Goldsworthy

Jason deCaires Taylor

In both instances the photographs are secondary to the process. Sculpting and setting up the raw materials in the environment is the first step. Some artists have become masters of Adobe Photoshop layering techniques, imagery and scanned art to create unique photographs that are really almost like paintings. Maggie Taylor and Juliann Kost are both examples of artists like this.

Maggie Taylor

Juliann Kost

Still other artists do their magic through the darkroom and the way that they photograph their work. John Paul Caponigro does use some photoshop, but he is also a master of light and amazing natural settings. He tries to capture the metaphors that these natural themes can portray. Jerry Uelsmann using only film and darkroom techniques to create his interesting images and metaphors.

John Paul Caponigro

Jerry Uelsmann

Artists like Sandy Skoglund are almost like surrealist painters who create their metaphors by building elaborate, staged sets, which then are photographed. These push the envelop on what is real and what is imagined.

Sandy Skoglund

Francesca Woodman is a photographer whose work contains a lot of nudity.

If you try to look her up, most images will probably be blocked.

She does have some great examples however, that might inspire you. Here are a few.


Here are some cool images I've found that might get you thinking......

Surrealistic Self Portraits

Surrealistic Self Portraits 2



In addition to the photographers featured here you might also look at artists who were part of the Surrealism movement in art. Often their work was about mythology and relied heavily on the concept of metaphors. People like:

Frida Kahlo

Salvador Dali

Rene Magritte