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Cameron, Dorothy
The Lost Goddess
1980

Self-described as “the miraculous babies of my post-menopausal years,” Dorothy Cameron’s sculptural work explores family, sexuality, and death. The Lost Goddess was one of the first in this series inspired by the theories of famed psychoanalyst Carl Jung and Cameron’s own quest for self-discovery. Made just two years after she lost all sight in her right eye, the work was inspired by a dream. A shrine-like self portrait, The Lost Goddess presents figures formed of self-hardening modeling compounds, papier maché, and paint mounted on a metal cabinet, framed by a three-part screen, and surrounded by traditionally feminine objects such as dolls, ribbons, candles, and pearls. The resulting tableau is highly ornamental, even outlandish; it is grounded in Cameron’s self-professed employment of it as a tool for self-analysis rather than formal aesthetic values.

In the account of her dream, Cameron recalls the labour of an ancient goddess of ocean, earth and sky, her legs spread as she emerges from the land and gives birth to a small shrimp. The artist explains that this Goddess is a future version of the Virgin Mary, and her “shrimp-child” represents the feminine counterpart of the Christ-Child (traditionally symbolized by the fish). The shrimp shares what Cameron considers the fate of all earthly women: the need for armour.

Extending the allegory a step further, another woman lays on the lap of the goddess, her legs similarly spread as she handles a fishing rod in hopes of hooking a shrimp-child. Both goddess and earthly subject are obvious self-portraits of the artist – sharing the same hairstyle and oversized eyeglasses – but Cameron coyly concludes, “If woman and Goddess appear to resemble each other, it is because they both reflect the restored radiance of female identity and self-worth.”

 
Cameron, Dorothy
Toronto ON 1924-Toronto ON 2000
The Lost Goddess
1980
mixed media (self-hardening modeling compound, papier maché, paint, wood, found materials)
Panel: 77.5591 x 84.252 x .7874 in.; 197 x 214 x 2 cm; Cabinet: 88 cm x 42 cm x 52 cm
Donated by a friend, in loving memory of the remarkable gallerist and artist, Dorothy Cameron, 2003
46-036

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