WWU students, alumna unveil 'The Kalliope Project' in the Fine Arts B Gallery through April 19

Project is a series of photographic portraits of women from Greek and Roman antiquity, and their accompanying mythologies
The Kalliope Project is a series of 15 photographic portraits of women of Greek and Latin antiquity, their accompanying mythology, and is on display in the Fine Arts Building's B Gallery through April 19.

Named after the head muse of Greek antiquity, The Kalliope Project is an art series of 15 photographic portraits of women of Greek and Latin antiquity, their accompanying mythology, and a documentary dedicated to the powerful women of history, and is on display in the Fine Arts Building's B Gallery through April 19. 

This project by WWU students Maesie Halliday and Sophia Robertson and recent WWU grad Anne Lillis brings to light the strengths and complexities of female characters of antiquity. It is a celebration of the divinity of femininity; the resilience, wit, beauty and power of the under celebrated and overly sexualized women of antiquity. 

About the Kalliope Project 

Myths are not something that happened once, long ago, but stories that happen again and again. The study of the Humanities tells the story of human thought. It is a chorus of voices, thousands of years old. When you study the Humanities, you realize that since the dawn of recorded human thought, we have all been singing the same songs. The songs we sing are of love, loss, desperation and anger. In a world where we are so focused on our differences, there is immense power in realizing how much human beings have in common by the shared virtue of living on this planet. Every generation of people struggles in the search for truth, understanding, and meaning. The study of the Humanities makes it undeniable how similar we all are. 

Over the course of our academic career we've discovered that the human experience is ubiquitous, regardless of time and age. We have also noticed that most classes that study literature of antiquity are primarily composed of sources from male authors, surrounding male conflicts. However, in-depth analysis of these texts reveals the elevation of women in antiquity. It is our mission to give them back their voice, to grant them agency in our modern world through the use of photo portraiture on a multi-media basis. 

What started as the desire to create beauty and art with beloved friends has turned into a multimedia project with dozens of collaborators that we could not have foreseen. This collaboration has been created by the hearts of many dedicated women, young and old, who are eager to help tell the stories. The project consists of fifteen stunning photographic portraits of women modeling as heroes and villains from Greek and Roman mythology, the myths that accompany them, and a documentary about the project which debuted at the Firehouse Arts and Event Center on Sunday, April 7, which will be shown again by WWU's Global Humanities and Religions Department.  

-- Maesie Halliday

This image, and its accompanying mythology, are on display in the Fine Arts Building B Gallery as part of the Kalliope Project, through April 19. After that date, the project will move to the Old Town Cafe on Holly Street.

Artists' Statement

In-depth textual analysis of classical works reveals the complexity and depth of the female characters of Greek and Roman mythology, yet many male scholars have dismissed these women as sexual plot devices. They are not celebrated for their complexity. 

The urge to change this is what inspired The Kalliope Project. 

Throughout this project we sought to tell the stories of the multifaceted women of antiquity, offering art as a celebration of their depth through a feminine lens.

One very important aspect of this project has been bringing women together, empowering women to feel beautiful, and encouraging women to take joy in their appearance without the male gaze of sexualization and shame. 

These portraits are rife with devotion and tribute to femininity.

The portraits hang beside a retelling of a story from each character’s mythology, inviting the viewer to not only engage with the photographic content, but also the offering of a narrative freed from the male lens that it has so often been trapped in. The key concept behind these works is poetic synthesizing.

We asked women from all aspects of our lives to participate in The Kalliope Project by posing for the portraits. We were also fortunate to find many individuals and businesses in Bellingham willing to donate time and space to our project. In our creative process we discovered that women and men, young and old, were fascinated by these ancient myths of complex womanhood, and developed a vested interest in helping us celebrate the characters. The project would not have been possible without the love, support, and interest of our community. 

-- Maesie Halliday, Sophia Robertson, and Anne Lillis