At sixteen, life is supposed to be safe. Things are supposed to be beginning. We are supposed to be weaning from the care and guidance of people who have raised us. We are supposed to be on the brink of our adult lives. We should be taking the reins and figuring out how to care for ourselves, and we should have our most basic needs met so that we can care for others. It’s a volatile, dizzying, restless age. It is not always sweet.
Two sides of what used to be one wooden box hang on the walls of the Smart Gallery in Chicago. At first glance they are unremarkable: vaguely Italian-looking landscapes populated by two vaguely Italian-looking lovers, all flowing hair and slit silk. In the panel on the left, a woman lies improbably across some rocky ground—perhaps sleeping or dead—while a man leans on his staff and peers over her with a neutral expression. In the panel on the right, in front of a section of silvery sea, the same woman stands apart from the man who reaches toward her. His mouth is open. Her hands cross upwards into two woody stems and blossom into the unmistakable broccoli-floret silhouette of a tree: Daphne, turning into a laurel to escape the god Apollo.