Sheryl Crowley

What We Turn To Stone: We Are Medusa / Library Gallery / July 8 – September 2, 2022

Artist Statement

I am deeply moved by the hurts and desolations of this world and its people. I feel a shrinking and sickening sorrow and anger in my gut. I know that compassion and connection are fundamental to the survival of all life here on Earth, and yet that does not seem to have sunk in for so many people.

This exhibit of acrylics, centered on the myth of Medusa, explores the personal responses to having physical, mental, or emotional aggression done to us and to those others who are unprotected. What  stages of grief, anger, or resignation do we go through? How do we come to a place where we may witness the violence done against others and stand up and speak with many voices in truth and solidarity? What might we hold as wisdom that may be shared for the greater good? How do we heal and find joy and trust?

For the portrayal of each emotional state or experience, I let my intuition suggest what treatment to use. I was able to explore, expand and play with multiple techniques as I felt would fit with the topic of each given piece. I allowed myself to paint some works in a looser, wilder, or simpler way. These ranging paintings ask each of us to look at how we, like the mythical Medusa of ancient Greece, turn what we most fear and most wish to hide from, into stone.


Medusa was reviled and hunted for her snake adorned head and stony stare. Several versions of her legend survive in texts from ancient Greece. In Ovid, she was said to have been a beautiful woman who served Athena in her temple. Poseidon found and raped Medusa there, in Athena’s temple. In punishment, Athena cursed her with hideous snake hair. Medusa became the monster. Many men hunted her. Many ended crumpled into stone, caught by her one defense, a deadly, stoney gaze. She was eventually murdered by Perseus, who beheaded her as she slept and carried away her head as a trophy.  

I thought of Medusa alone. Medusa as the vindictive monster? A woman dealing with having been raped, with impunity, by a power greater than her. A woman without agency for justice or revenge save for her deadly gaze. So many parallels in the world today where we commonly hear of women assaulted and made powerless by those more powerful. Many women, men, and children endure discrimination and violence if they are deemed “lesser” or “not us”.