Jill Harrington Nichols
American, born 1956
Juno, oil on canvas, 60” x 72”
The painting was inspired by the zoomed-in image of Jupiter’s outer atmosphere, as captured by the Juno Probe. The image, with all of its cascading swirls immediately caught Jill’s attention. Based on her gravity-bound earth-centric orientation she identified the flows to be traveling downward through the field of view. In actuality, the fast-moving gases are streaming in bands, parallel to the equator around Jupiter, our largest gaseous neighbor. Gravity is at play in the Jovian atmosphere in the rise and fall of the gases as can be seen in the shadows and light in the painting. Similar to the convection of earth’s clouds the cooler gases fall toward the core of the planet and then rise from heat building while being driven around the planet by zonal winds or jets. The movement of the gases is on a much grander scale than that of earth, creating massive storms and setting off lightning strikes.
The painting is named after Juno, the Goddess of Fertility as well as the probe that captured the image that inspired it. The impression of the Jovian fluid dynamics of light and energy reminded the artist of a more earth-bound energy, that of biological life. As the painting developed, the expression of the Fertility Goddess emerged in the shapes of the female womb and birth canal. Shapes and systems that relate to each other – inner life mapping to the larger outer life. So within so without, the infinitely scalability of finite matter.
Jupiter was the Roman King of the Gods, ruler of the sky and thunder. Juno was Jupiter’s wife, queen and goddess of protection and fertility. She was also considered the patron goddess of Rome and a protector of the state. Juno, Jupiter and Minerva (goddess of wisdom), formed a triad based on the preceding Etruscan trio of Tinia, the male supreme deity, Uni, his wife, and Menrva, their daughter and goddess of wisdom. Two females and one male god thus formed the Trinity which the Christian faith transformed into the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Traveling through Rome and the Vatican one can see representations of former Roman Gods intermingled with symbols of Christianity. A peaceful coexistence is woven between the ancient religions and more recent Christian beliefs. All part of our striving as humans to bring meaning and understanding to our existence.
Archival print on metallic canvas, 30” x 36” is now installed in the Vatican Observatory.