Laurel Antur: The Hero's Journey

My work explores the creation of new, personal myths that connect to deeper archetypes. These archetypes, represented by animals, are present in children’s stories and fairy tales. Archetypes connect us to our dreams, to our global consciousness. They externalize our stories, our vulnerabilities and cruelties. Our myths are our collective memory.

Each painting contains a mystery, and an invitation. Strange figures painted in haunting, muted colors beckon us to explore a deeper way of being, to look in the periphery of our lives and find meaning. Dreams, Jungian psychology, Joseph Campbell’s ideas about mythology and expressive arts therapy all influence my work.  Using art as a tool to heal and explore, I found that working spontaneously, with flowing inks and watercolors, allowed me to tap into a different form of creativity.  The imagery that appears is personally expressive, and over time the archetypes became less about me, and more about us.

Playing with Jungian ideas about the Hero’s Journey, and the collective unconscious, the intention of my work is transformation. Sometimes the images are disturbing without showing anything violent.  I strive to create a dream-like world, a liminal space that is preverbal and nonspecific.

One archetype that reappears in my work is the Stag Woman, a symbol for power and leadership. Combining a potent male symbol with a female figure, this symbol explores gender roles and my identity as a lesbian who is also a mother.  Several archetypes often interact with each other, lending a narrative quality to my work that bridges the divide between studio practices and art therapy.

The symbolic meanings the archetypes have for me personally are different from what the viewer experiences.  I seek to cultivate this haunting quality, one that speaks to another aspect of our life barely remembered from our sleep. I hope my images gently disturb the viewer, reminding them of strange dreams or childhood imagination.  While the archetypes in my work arose from personal struggles, they speak, as archetypes do, to the universal struggles we all have in common.