An independent Catholic school for young women in grades 7-12

Bringing Classical Statues to the 21st Century

Bringing Classical Statues to the 21st Century
Mairead Stack '21, Communications Intern

When you think of the art of ancient Greece, I’m sure one of the first images that comes to mind are the marble statues that are so quintessentially Classical. We picture the face of Diskobolos, resilient in the moments of stress before releasing his discus. We remember the raw emotion and physical perfection of the Seated Boxer, and the flowing robes of Winged Victory, billowing in the breezes of the sea. These figures are graceful, strong, and almost other-worldly, which is why I was surprised that I was challenged with making them something definitively of this world: a Facebook profile.

Yes, a Facebook profile. After our discussion of these works in class, Mrs. Petti tasked our AP Art History class with creating a profile for seven Classical Greek sculptures, complete with their birthdays, hometowns, hobbies, and status updates. We were challenged to build upon the personalities the sculptors had given these statues originally, while also inserting our own creative opinions.

I am grateful that this project was right up my alley. I tend to be an out-of-the-box thinker, so when it came time for this project, I had already imagined what the Seated Boxer would post after being defeated in his latest fight. (Hint: He’s looking for a plastic surgeon to reconstruct his broken nose.) I began with Peplos Kore, an archaic statue with flowing braids and a missing right hand. Some of her favorite activities include braiding her hair with one hand, and practicing her painting skills to one day repaint herself. From her status update, we also know she’s a tad frustrated with her characteristic “Archaic Smile.” (“Can’t a girl be sad for once?”) And so I went, creating new realities for these ancient sculptures, and imagining them as real people, not god-like or intimidating.

One of my favorite profiles was that of Winged Victory of Samothrace. She notes on her profile that she was born in Samothrace, Greece, but is currently living in Paris (at the Louvre, of course). She alludes to her other appearances at the Acropolis with her mention of “adjusting her sandal” as a current activity, and names “winning” as a favorite interest- a natural hobby for the Greek goddess of victory. As for a status update, Victory stays true to form: “Just landed on this ship. I’m ready to crown the victor and par-tay!! #allidoiswin.”

Victory is a little boastful, so if she really was on Facebook, I might unfriend her. But more importantly, making these Facebook profiles helped me connect to the art on a personal level. When taking the test for ancient Greece, I not only could remember the sculptures better, but also articulate their emotions and my response to them because I had spent time translating their movements and expressions into what they mean today. Mrs. Petti is always encouraging the class to relate to the art, to imagine the characters’ feelings, to put ourselves in the frame. We’ve recreated cave art with charcoal and paper bags, we’ve traced Egyptian wall frescoes, and we even have Covid-safe food festivals at the end of each unit with dishes from that region or time period. Mrs. Petti’s dedication and passion for AP Art History has made me want to go out into the world and see all of the sculptures, paintings, and architecture we study. And while I might not ever make a Facebook profile for every artwork I see, I know that I can connect to the art just the same, and appreciate it for all of its beauty and personality.