Tigers are a bit further down on this page but we found a brilliant writer, Mr. Shipley that has made the Pandora painting into a story. Hopefully avid readers of stories will enjoy here this collaboration. It is one in a series, multidisciplinary works, collection of stories inspired by or descriptive of paintings, Please let us know if you like this one and sign up for the email newsletter to receive the others as those new stories unfold.
The Story is- Pandora's Box
The Story is- Pandora's Box
I was in China when it first occurred to me to reimage the story of Pandora and her box of horrors. Classically, the scene is full of ghouls, villains, demons and terrors clawing their way to freedom and streaking across the sky. The images are dark and wicked, promising death, sorrow, misery and all manner of discomfort. One of my favorite Pandora images is of the dreads rising from the cracked box in the shape of dragons with the heads of lions, pigs, insects and fish. Yet over and over the story has been told of the little girl charged by the gods with the protection of a box, full of the sorrows of the world. When her curiosity overcomes her she pries open the lid and in so doing, releases wickedness in what was otherwise and apparently perfect utopia of happiness and peace.
An interesting take on humanity, but it’s not really my style.
It was early morning and I was walking the streets of Hong Kong. The smog was thick that day and I was cursing myself for not remembering my mask. All about me hustled men, women and children, racing off to begin their day. While traveling I tend to keep artist’s hours, and though my walk was happening at what seemed like a very early time to me and my sleep-filled eyes, I was amazed by the number of people moving along the sidewalks and lanes. Face after face passed me with serious expressions painted upon them. Like a constant example of the severity of life, each new countenance reminded me that for so many life is an arduous journey. They rise, struggle, beat their breasts all day long until the night takes them and they can sleep until the morning comes and it all begins again. Over and over, the cycle holds them like a lover and pins them down with jealous hands. Day in and day out, from the youngest person I saw to the oldest woman sitting in her home at that very moment, so many in the world seemed trapped in a system that would never release them.
I felt miserable.
I felt lonely.
I felt grief and remorse for the loss of so many lives still being lived.
A thought popped into my head that if Pandora’s Box were to open here the creatures within would have very little work to accomplish this morning. It was a terrible thought, but it was all I could muster at the moment.
And then something incredible happened.
There are those times in life – they happened quickly and I shiver to think of how many I have missed – moments when something truly remarkable happens. Angles and miracles and joy and passion and goodness float past, hoping to be caught and spread, and while it seems that most miss it there will always be one who sees the moment and dances. As I cringed at the pained and tired faces around me, I was bowled over by one such happy creature. A little girl, probably no more than eight or nine years old, went gliding past as though lost in the most wondrous of worlds. The smile upon her face radiated an infectious goodness that pulled me from my sorrows and pricked me with joy. It was as though she was immune to the drudgery and the monotony, and the mundane had no power over her.
She was alive.
Like a dancer in a graveyard, the girl was so dramatically more full of life than the persons sharing the same space and time. She was just on the verge of that age when life for a girl becomes difficult and awkward and uncertain. She was perhaps a couple years from doubt and self-consciousness, but for now the girl was bubbling with trust, love and joy.
And then it hit me.
We have been looking at Pandora and her box all wrong. What if each of us possessed a box? What if each of us had the choice of Pandora, to open it or keep it sealed? The world itself is already so full of sorrow and hate, so what if the box didn’t contain misery? What if the box contained love, joy, peace, happiness and comfort? What if the box didn’t hold demons and vile creatures but light and energy? What if we each had one of these boxes, but fear kept us from opening them?
That was my thought when I painted Pandora. The colors and butterflies represent the love and peace each of us have to share. The elephants represent luck, peace, wisdom and happiness, celebrating as another child of this world chooses to open their box and spread goodness in the world. The woman is not Pandora but a symbol for humanity and friendship. She of course only thrives when we open ourselves and let our hearts spread goodness. The stage is designed after a circus since I have always felt the three-ring metaphor was the perfect image of the stage in which we play out most of our lives.
The painting is meant to encourage people to consider your contribution to this world of ours, and to release only what will improve our short time here.