My model had her entire body painted by a friend to recreate the Phoenix from Greek mythology, and the resulting photograph is seen below, complete with wings, flames, and ashes.
Octavia Butler is the quote’s author, “In order for a Phoenix to emerge from its ashes, it must first burn.”
The Firebird is an ancient mythological bird whose symbolism and mythology continue to fascinate us to this day. Its narrative is being told in modern times and has even made its way into popular cultures, such as the X-Men film franchise. The ancient Greeks referred to this mythical creature as Phoenix, while the Egyptians called it Bennu, and the Chinese referred to it as Feng-Huang. The national symbol of Russia is the Firebird. The Egyptians believed it was a manifestation of the god Ra’s spirit. Because its intense fire has always been associated with the sun in Native American folklore, some Native Americans referred to it as Yel.
The Phoenix was a legendary bird in Greek mythology that was said to have the ability to live for hundreds of years and to regenerate or be reborn from the ashes of its previous incarnation. This subject has captivated me since I was a child, what with Clash of the Titans and everything. Others believe that the Phoenix would spontaneously burn and die while engulfed in flames, whereas some texts assert that it would just pass away and deteriorate before reincarnation. It was speculated that it might continue to live for more than 1,400 years.
The Phoenix is a mythical bird that has been depicted in art since at least 1500 BC. The Phoenix is believed to represent rebirth, renewal, immortality, healing, and fire. In times of doubt, weakness, and suffering, the Phoenix symbolizes strength, change, and renewal. After all, it is only from the ashes of who we once were that we can rise to become who we were always intended to be. Its timeless narrative may apply to us in the present day.
Projects such as this remind me of the baton relay during the Olympic track meet. One artist takes care of one section, then passes it to the next, then the next, all responsible for different stages. Finally, the baton is passed on to me so I can photograph the section and bring everyone’s work to life through imagery while also telling a story. Not only was it vital for me to shoot at a location that appeared to be a bit desolate and post-apocalyptic, but it was also vital for me to figure out HOW exactly I could incorporate the elements of the Phoenix into the photos without it looking gimmicky, cartoonish, or just dumb. Mystery, power, flame, red suns and moons, smoke, sparks before the fire, and even a little bit of evil, just like the Jean Gray alter-ego, who was not only self-assured and gorgeous but dangerous and ominous as well.
Body paint/Makeup: Jessi Jewel
Hair/Headpiece: Monica McKenna
Model: Shelby Smith
Assist: Jeremy Hopkins
Concept: Carrie Hampton
More info: carriehampton.com