A marble sculpture that 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.

Love Letter to Yoko Kubrick

A marble sculpture that 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.
Yoko Kubrick, The Capture of Persephone, 2020. 32x 20 x 20 inches, statuary marble of Carrara.

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.

A digital drawing of the anime character Sailor Moon, reimagined as a young Black woman. She has full lips, curly blond hair, hoop earrings, and piercing eyes.

Love Letter to Jazmin Anita

A digital drawing of the anime character Sailor Moon, reimagined as a young Black woman. She has full lips, curly blond hair, hoop earrings, and piercing eyes.
Jazmin Anita, Sailor Moon Redraw (2020).

San Diego-based artist Jazmin Anita captures Black women as both fantastic and everyday characters, from galactic girls to casual teens, all dressed in Anita’s dreamy style. Her rendition of Sailor Moon—a glossy, Black Sailor Moon, with full lips, curly blond hair, hoop earrings, and piercing eyes—went viral not only because of its visual allure, but because of the powerful statement conveyed by Black women reimagining themselves as major players in human narratives. 

The softness in Anita’s drawings lend a subdued, enchanting aesthetic. Her depiction of Black women in bright clothes with colored hair and sparkles on their skin, eyes, and hair creates an avenue for Black girls to see and accept themselves in a way society doesn’t. In Anita’s creations, they can be queer, fat, anime-inspired, galactic—or any combination. One identity does not negate the other. No single identity restricts the fact that Black is beautiful; all identities enhance it.

Anita’s interpretation of Sailor Moon recalls Afro-Cuban American artist Harmonia Rosales, who recreated Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam, with God, Adam, and all other beings as Black women. Black people can and should create original art, but we also can and should assert that we’ve always been a part of the story. Anita does this through her expertly rendered portraits that bridge artistry with accessibility. Whether her characters are emerging from the sea, adorned with stars, or just living their lives, they evoke a feeling of ethereal beauty I consider essential for Black women to see and believe is possible. Anita’s drawings remind us that positive representation is an underestimated necessity.