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Putting the Universe in Order: Garments of Hera

© Copyright Alessandra Kelley

These garments are part of "Second Sights: The Art of Presence", an ongoing project.

"Second Sights" takes inspiration from the classical Greek gods to spur thought and expand our culture's ideas of human beauty and clothing.

These garments offer thoughts about the movement of the human form.

The project blends panel painting, clothing design and construction, and textile painting. Each god addressed in the "Second Sights" project has a painting and an outfit, sometimes more than one.

Hera is the Greek god who, along with her husband Zeus, rules all of the other gods, heaven and earth. She is the god of rulership, marriage, stability, and orderliness in the universe.

A number of her myths involve Hera cleaning up the world after Zeus has loosed heroes upon it. This can be seen as a cycle: Growing corruption and instability in the world necessitate a hero, which Zeus creates. Hera then motivates the hero into stabilizing the world and bringing a new peace and order.

It may be worth pointing out that the name of the mythic Greek hero Herakles (Hercules to the Romans) means "the glory of Hera."

a woman wearing the Hera garments in a garden, seen from behind
a woman wearing the Hera garments in a garden

Hera's garments are a silk taffeta skirt, a painted deerskin bodice, and a silk georgette train. Square fasteners of imitation turquoise (dyed howlite) and leather strips hold the bodice together.

semiprecious stone squares as fasteners

The cream-colored deerhide is hand- and machine-sewn with sturdy red thread and handpainted with designs of the creatures and spaces over which Hera has dominion.

The train is transparent turquoise silk georgette, painted with thick lines of sculpted actylic paint. It is held on by a green silk ribbon.

the bodice front
the bodice back a detail of a silhouetted sea creature in azure blue water
detail of the train hem A tempera painting of a woman standing on a serpent with firey wings behind her, four arms and a mane of glowing white hair

Click here to see the accompanying painting.

Click here for the project gallery.