“Ancient Songs, Modern Muses” is a joint exhibition of art and poetry from London-based painter John Woodman and Charlottesville poet and classicist Ben Jasnow, a doctoral student in the University of Virginia’s College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
Woodman and Jasnow illustrate and translate the “Idylls” of Theocritus. Each original verse translation is paired with several of Woodman’s contemporary, interpretive illustrations. A talk and poetry reading will accompany the unveiling of the exhibit, “First Friday,” April 5, from 5:30-8 p.m. The show will run through April 26 at The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative, located at 209 Monticello Road.
The Ancient Greek poet Theocritus, who lived in the 3rd century B.C., was the father of pastoral poetry. His “Idylls” are intense works of erotic longing, idealized rustic scenes and mythical tales.
Theocritus was a poet with strong ties to his native Sicily, interested in popular traditions and local culture, yet the world in which he lived was one of rapid globalization. The questions posed by the “Idylls” resonate today. How does local culture persist in the face of increasing cosmopolitanism? How can we adapt traditional culture to our own time? What is the nature of communication and artistic exchange in a world that is increasingly chaotic and confusing?
Jasnow is a poet and Ph.D. candidate in Classics, where he has taught classes on ancient languages and literature. His dissertation, “What the Shepherds Sing: Popular Culture and Local Identity in the Bucolic Idylls of Theocritus,” investigates the relation of the poet to the culture of his native Sicily. Jasnow’s poetry has been published by journals in the U.S. and overseas.
Woodman is an English painter. He has exhibited across the United Kingdom and internationally, in such places as the Mall Galleries and Royal Scottish Academy. In 2010 he was an artist-in-residence in the McGuffey Art Centre in Virginia, and his work has been chosen for the Discerning Eye Prize. He graduated from the Glasgow School of Art in 2006 with a sell-out degree show.