Rather than a fixed entity, the region of the “Mediterranean” is defined by continuous trade and exchange across the sea, and encompasses many evanescent and even contradictory concepts. Considered the “cradle of European civilization,” the Mediterranean is where Greco-Roman art and culture originated and has been continually adapted and renewed . In particular, the Mediterranean has served as a path along which Eastern women move to the center of Greek power, and it holds female human/animal hybrids that seduce and threaten. This exhibition examines representations of women of the Mediterranean as monster, queen, seductress, scorned lover, and exotic object of desire. Images of women from African and Eastern cultures also broaden our conception of the Mediterranean and address the legacies of colonialism that bind the region. From ancient pottery shards to Picasso’s ceramic plate, from Cartari’s female deities to the nineteenth century photographs of veiled women from the East, these works point to the multiple constructions of the Mediterranean as well as the charged and changing representations of women from history and myth.
The exhibition Revealing Mediterranean Women held at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in 2014 included twenty works from museums and private collections across the United States. Experience the exhibit here.