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grace o'mara

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Persephone's Garden

Persephone’s Garden is a multimedia interactive exhibit that explores the Greek goddess of spring and queen of the underworld. The story of Persephone’s abduction is one of the most well-known Greek myths, and it is at the center of this work. Persephone’s Garden aims to unpack the narrative that so often defines the goddess and examine both its ancient and modern retellings through a feminist lens. This piece attempts to capture a diverse range of discourse that surrounds the figure and her story.

Persephone’s Garden has been made to mimic a metro map; it acts as a transportation service that can take you to a variety of destinations and sights. The first stop, “Welcome, Persephone Girl” offers an introduction to the project and explains its intended function. This exhibit was made so that anyone could explore the different threads of Persephone’s story at their own pace. My project is tailored to users who want to navigate through the map on their own. You can click on stops that interest you or venture through the entire exhibit before reaching the terminal station “See You Next Spring…”.

This piece highlights voices that are often overlooked in academic settings. I intended to challenge what retellings could look like, just as many feminist retellings have done and continue to do. There are an abundance of artifacts hosted in this piece: songs, children’s books, video essays, poems, art pieces, novels, film, theater performances, academic texts, video games, and more. I have acted as curator and cartographer, inserting my interests and perspective into my retelling of Persephone’s story.

This work explores a wide range of themes. It delves deep into the idea of agency. It confronts the often antagonistic representation of Demeter in modern versions of the story. It ponders the definition of a feminist retelling and asks whose voice matters. It argues the harm in viewing the goddess’ story as one of perpetual victimhood. Persephone’s Garden is a project that attempts to cross borders, not only with its content but by challenging the very idea of what a feminist retelling can look like.

I created this project while working at Northeastern’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department in the fall of 2022. Below you will find Persephone's Garden. Make sure to click the full screen button at the bottom right of the frame to get the full experience.

In the fall of 2023, I wrote a meta-analysis involving this work and two other exhibits grounded in folklore, digital humanities, and feminist studies. You can either click here to read the piece or look under the “other writing” tab.