Beautiful, long haired, winged Lilith is a female demon who appears in the folklore of many cultures. Combining elements from ancient Babylonian mythology with generations-long fears of feminine dominance and the crib death phenomena, Lilith made her grand appearance during the Middle Ages as Jewish scholars and mystics pondered the existence of two Biblical versions of Creation. According to midrash, Adam’s first wife was not Eve, but Lilith who was created with him. When she was denied equality by her partner Adam, Lilith grew wings and flew away from the Garden of Eden, and for that she was cursed.
Lilith’s tragic character has been widely portrayed in art from the seductive serpent in Michelangelo’s The Fall of Adam and Eve, to Kiki Smith’s haunted wall sculpture, often representing feminine independence that is achieved at a high personal cost.
In a series of portraits made with materials associated with feminine chores, I examine the seam between freedom and obligation, beauty and decay, retaliation and tragedy.