In ancient Greek mythology, Athena stands as a patron and protectress.
The Parthenon in Athens is dedicated to the goddess, who was thought to have come from the head of her father Zeus.
And, because of her strength and wisdom, she competed in and won many battles, often aiding heroes along the way.
Over the years, her symbol has been a source of inspiration to countless artists— including longtime Port Moody resident Judith M. Atkinson.
On Saturday, she’ll open a solo show at the Art Gallery at Evergreen titled The Return of the Goddess, which pays tribute to the figure and reimagines Athena leading the way in modern times as a warrior for female empowerment.
A graduate of Emily Carr University of Art + Design and a fine art instructor at Langara College in Vancouver, Atkinson has studied antiquity for years.
Three years ago, she was in Greece to absorb Athena’s legacy and, this past summer, led painting students on a tour of Tuscany, Italy, to continue her look at ancient civilization; she extended her trip to include Sicily.
Atkinson sketched at historical locations — Delphi, the Parthenon and, later, at the base of Mount Etna — and reflected on Piero della Francesca’s The Legend of the True Cross, among other sacred sites, to get a sense of the cosmos and mythology.
Atkinson said Athena’s attributes influenced her artwork as the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements flared up around the world, and as forest fires raged in Greece. “The trends and the climate change became the spark. You could see everything was connected.”
Her extensive readings, including of The Passion of the Western Mind by cultural historian Richard Tarnas, resulted in about 50 abstract and figurative pieces for her new series.
And many of those oil, watercolour and mixed media paintings will make their debut at the Art Gallery at Evergreen.
In the show, “I want to evoke ancient times when women and men were considered equals,” Atkinson said, adding, “Women have sat on the sidelines for too long… It’s time for women to rise up and challenge the norms.”
To enhance the exhibit experience, Atkinson recruited Joël Tibbits to produce a soundscape; in the past, she has also employed dancers to lead viewers through her installations.
Atkinson last exhibited at Evergreen in 2007 as part of the Coquitlam venue’s 10th anniversary show, Shifting Views.
• The Art Gallery at Evergreen (1205 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam) is open Wednesday to Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
• Nov. 17, 1 to 4 p.m.: Create a travel map — using photo transfers, colouring, collage and other materials — during the Westminster Savings Family Day
• Nov. 17, 3 to 5 p.m.: Opening reception with the artist
• Dec. 15, 1 to 4 p.m.: Paint a terracotta clay pot at the Westminster Savings Family Day