Need Help?
Symbols in Art: Who's Who? homepage_frame1 homepage_frame2 homepage_frame3

In art, a symbol is usually a solid, recognizable thing—an animal, a plant, an object, etc.—that stands for something that would be hard to show in a picture or a sculpture. A force of nature, for example, or an idea.

A symbol can also stand for someone’s whole story. In the three sculptures you’re about to look at, the American artist Hiram Powers uses symbols to represent the stories of his three mythological characters.

And just to make things complicated...

Artists through the centuries have used these three characters—and just about all the other characters in
Greek mythology—as symbols themselves to stand for something else.

For example, an artist might put the sea god Poseidon in a picture to represent the sea and everything about the sea.

When you discover the stories of Psyche, Artemis,
and Clytie, ask yourself:

What could those characters represent? 
How would I use their stories as symbols?


Well Done!

You’ve done a great job of figuring out what the artist Hiram Powers was up to. Psyche was a mortal girl who became immortal—like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. The artist placed a butterfly in her hair. Clytie became a sunflower. The artist gave her sunflower petals. Artemis was the goddess of the moon. The artist gave her a crescent moon. He also represented her modesty with a toga, which Psyche and Clytie do not have.

Now use your symbol-sleuthing skills in Symbols in a Story.