Satyr’s Daughters is a group of five painted ceramic sculptures by Judy Fox. The artist was born in New Jersey in 1957, and currently lives in New York. She is most famous for her life-size realistic terra-cotta nudes of women and children. Satyr’s Daughters was created in 1999 and originally displayed in the PPOW Gallery in New York City. The display included four statues of girls, each about seven years old (the daughters), and one adult man (the satyr). The four girls were displayed on high pedestals on one side of the room; they were meant to be viewed from below. The Satyr was on the other side of the room on a low platform, and was looking at the daughters. Although they were displayed in one group, each of the five statues was sold individually. Since Pigtails is about girls, this post will concentrate on the daughters.
The four daughters represent four different geographical areas: India, Africa, China, and Europe. Fox said that she chose models at an age when they were becoming conscious of their beauty, but were still innocent of its sexual implications. Fox considers herself to be a feminist, and strives for her art to reflect that.
Lakshmi represents India. Lakshmi is the name of a Hindu goddess, but the Lakshmi of Satyr’s Daughters has an appearance different from traditional portrayals of the divinity. Hindus worship Lakshmi as the goddess of wealth, love, beauty, joy and prosperity. Lakshmi is conventionally depicted as an adult woman with four arms, as in the painting by Raja Ravi Varma. However, Lakshmi was incarnate on Earth as Sita and as Rukmini, so it may not be entirely contrary to Hindu doctrine to portray her as a young girl. At least, I have not read of any Hindus objecting to the Lakshmi statue in Satyr’s Daughters.
Africa is represented by Onile. Onile is the Earth and metalworking goddess of the Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin. She is often portrayed in abstract bronze statuettes in a pose similar to the Onile of Judy Fox. Although Onile is divine, I have not read of any Yoruba complaining of the Onile in Satyr’s Daughters as sacrilege.
Court Lady is the daughter for China. This statue is reminiscent of Tang Dynasty figurines of Chinese ladies. Court Lady replicates the posture and hair of the figurines, but with a nude child instead of a clothed adult. Photographs of live models were used to make the Satyr’s Daughters statues. Judy Fox lives and works in New York City, and it seems likely that her models were all from that area. Fox included details in the hair, posture, and titles of the sculptures to indicate that the girls represent different parts of the world and different cultures; not merely New York girls who happen to be of different ethnic backgrounds.
Rapunzel is Europe’s daughter. It is a good choice, I think, to use a fairy tale character from Grimm to represent Europe. The Grimm brothers collected their folk tales in 19th century Germany, but the tales are common in all European countries and are centuries old. Rapunzel is probably the best of Grimm’s Tales for the Satyr’s Daughters series because of her long hair. Since the figures are nude, the hair is one of the details necessary to give each daughter her individuality.
Controversy could potentially arise from the fact that real girls modeled for Satyr’s Daughters, and realistic nude statues of the girls were put on public display. If anything was done to make the models unrecognizable from the statues, it was not mentioned in any review that I read. Yet despite the fact that the girls were originally displayed with a satyr, and satyrs are by definition lascivious, I have not read of any objections in this regard to Satyr’s Daughters.