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Last updated: 1/20/06

What’s New:
Library Exhibit — January 23 through March 2, 2006
The Illiad Series — A New Translation by Merle Mainelli Poulton

There is a new exhibit in the University of Rhode Island Library Gallery. It is called The Illiad Series — A New Translation and will run from January 23 through March 2.

Book 2 - Catalog of Ships, 40" x 30", 2001

The artist, Merle Mainelli Poulton, was born in Providence, resides in Lincoln and has a studio in Pawtucket. More information about her and her work is available at her Web site

About this exhibit, the artist writes,

“Ilium is a state of mind…”(1)

All 15,693 lines of Homer’s Iliad are hand scribed in this series of works on paper. Each painting contains an entire book or chapter based on Richmond Lattimore's translation.

These are not illustrations, nor are they manuscripts, but through acute attention to the narrative, the handwriting process becomes an integral part of each piece, echoing the essence of the action.

Interestingly, the word "epic" is from "epos", the spoken word, the "winged word" of the poems.  It is not tied down by anything or anyone. Think of an epic not as a noun but rather as a verb or adjective describing action, a slice of unfolding motion between two arbitrary points, which is exactly what these paintings are about, the PROCESS. In this "process" the words actively change into simple markings that build up into imagery using layers (and forms) as authorized by the words themselves.

Homer, living perhaps sometime in the 8th century B.C., was a poet at the end of a centuries-old tradition of orally-composed epic poetry.  Originally the Iliad was sung to the accompaniment of the lyre, and only written down in the 6th century. Nearly three millennia later, this work has been translated into a multitude of languages, changing ever slightly each time.

This body of work is a new translation - a literal, visual one. The Iliad series began in July 2001 and was completed in November 2003. During its creation, many significant world events unfolded before us often mirroring the Greek epic, and validating the notion that (our unfolding) history is in fact cyclical and that the Iliad is still a contemporary piece of work. "The gods in the Iliad represent projections of feelings or activities of the observed world." (2) The characters often speak to their inner selves as I have done, making split decisions during each movement. Power, Fear, Hatred, Envy, Compassion, Honor, Humility, Sleep, and Death are all personified. While working on this series - constant questions arose:  Has mankind changed since this work was created? What have we learned from our past? Why war? Is it really over a woman, gold, land, power, oil? Or does humankind simply need a reason to battle? Is this really about a Greek or Trojan conflict or is it about a deeply ingrained human condition?

(1-2) Lattimore

All are invited to attend an artist’s talk on February 9th, 2006 in the University Library’s Galanti Lounge from 4:00 - 5:30 p.m., with a reception following.

Book 22 - Death of Hektor, 40" x 30", 2003

The exhibit and reception are sponsored by:

  • The URI Center for the Humanities
  • The Department of Languages
  • The Honors Program
  • The Visiting Scholars Committee
  • The Department of Art

The Library Gallery is located on the main floor of the University Library, 15 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 02881. Library hours are:

Monday-Thursday 8:00am-Midnight
Friday  8:00am-8:00pm
Saturday 10:00am-8:00pm
Sunday 1:00pm-Midnight

Book 9 - Achilleus Refuses the Embassy, 40" x 30", 2002

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