Western culture loves Greek mythology. We retell their stories in countless different ways, from literature to Hollywood movies. But what if a deity or its associate lesson were portrayed as abstractly as the element of life and nature they chaperone? San Francisco sculptor Yoko Kubrick meets this challenge through her transformation of narrative archetypes into symbolic figures of stone and marble.
Myths entice through their description of the gods’ paradoxical combination of super human power and very human nature, complicating what defines a human. It’s risky to lose the reality of our limits, but we mortals cannot help reimagining ourselves. By not explicitly depicting her subjects, Kubrick extracts from the viewer the longing to be greater than what we are.
Her sculptures seem as though they’re infused with potential energy, imbued with a sense of being in the process of morphing from one thing into another. They speak not only to the enduring relevance of Greek mythology, but to a truth about humans: we are creatures of change, always moving even when we are not.
I see this in her piece The Capture of Persephone (2019). The sculpture resembles a benign, almost blooming flower, but the pointed tips of the spiraled corolla mimic fingers pressed together to quickly, sharply pursue an object. Finally, above the base of the piece, there’s a small hole. Though the sculpture’s referent isn’t immediately apparent, the title provides its Greek inspiration, hinted in a flower for Persephone’s domain or her ensnarement, and the hole, which may symbolize the portal between the Underworld and the earthly world. Kubrick’s sculptures satisfy the looker, while still giving more to imagine.