Virtuous, Corrupt, or Something In-Between…

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette – Digital Collage

Is anything ever entirely virtuous or corrupt?

I viewed the Lunagirl Moonbeam Upcoming Challenge List with  a bit of apprehension. We were to take inspiration from Marie Antoinette. Oh no…Marie Antoinette! As I am anything but a royalist, I feared this would truly be a “challenge” for me.

I knew of the clichés attached to her legacy: she was the teen-age Queen with a penchant for extravagant fashion and entertainment; of her flippant “Let them eat cake!” comment which according to sources she never did say; and the belief that she single-handedly caused the French Revolution culminating in her execution by her own subjects at the guillotine. Although she represented everything I found loathsome, I wanted to keep an open mind and began my investigation.

As I research her life, the caricature fell away and slowly I saw her as a flawed ruler cloistered in her world of wealth and privilege.  She saw her subjects simply as fictional characters in a performance.

The digital collage began with Lunagirl’s portrait of Marie. My heart was inspired by the October 1789 Women’s March on Versailles, and I knew I had to give them equal prominence in my work. The balance of the collage drew from digital ephemera in my collection.

As I completed the work I gained a new understanding of Marie. Looking at her life allowed me to view my own with a measure of objectively. How often do clichés replace facts making it easy to view a person or situation as wholly one thing or the other? As artists isn’t it our duty to search for the truth? And more often than not, isn’t the truth shades of both sides?

 

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