Ariadne's Thread by Laura Atkins

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Laura Atkins

Ariadne's Thread


58.42 x 60.96 cm | 23 x 24 in

Oil on panel

This work is on loan from a private collection.

"Ariadne's Thread originates with the Greek myth of Theseus and Ariadne.

King Minos of Crete decreed that seven youths and seven maidens from Athens must be sacrificed to the Minotaur, a creature with the body of a man and the head of a bull, which was kept in a labyrinth. Theseus, the son of King Aegeus, planned to kill the Minotaur and if victorious, promised to change his ship's sail from black to white. 

Ariadne of Crete is charmed by Theseus. In exchange for taking her with him to Athens, she gives Theseus a ball of red wool so he can find his way back out of the labyrinth.

After Theseus successfully completed his task, he set sail for Athens with Ariadne. Unfortunately, he forgot to change his sail to white, and King Aegeus, upon seeing the black sail, leapt off a cliff to his death into what is now known as the Aegean Sea.

Ariadne is depicted in a contemporary setting. Her black dress represents the ship's black sail which Theseus forgot to change. The black and white umbrella symbolize both the black and white sails, the bull head pendant for the Minotaur, the spool of red twine that helped Theseus out of the labyrinth, and the maze in the background for the labyrinth. The twine is lit afire to symbolize either people's lack of logic or that logic will burn away falsities and set us free." - LAURA ATKINS