In April 2013, I was at a café in Paris to get WiFi for the news about the Boston Marathon bombings. While reading in a hurried panic, I was suddenly stopped by the music in the background: jazz with voiceovers talking about signs of the Zodiac. I found out that it was Adderley's Soul Zodiac (1972). Once back in the U.S., I ordered it and plunged into its imaginative depths. Over the following months, I examined each sign (as described in the album and elsewhere) to see how they matched with people I know. I began a study of people, exploring questions such as: Whose natures are like earth, fire, water, or air?
While I fell into this subject matter quite by accident, it fit my artistic trajectory. Part of this study overlapped with my previous project, The Kinetic and Potential Energies of the Four Seasons, which considers the energies of seasons graphically to express the rise and fall of physical environments and life events. My Zodiac splits the seasons further into the twelve units. Just as each season has its periods of rise, steadiness, and fall, people, too, can be defined by their sense of initiative, steadfastness, and mercurial qualities. The Zodiac is divided into four "rising" signs, four "fixed" signs, and four "mutable" signs. As I met the featured people in a variety places and times, my interactions with them rotate over time like the sun pointing to different constellations over the course of a year.
This series of illustrations is by no means a comprehensive exploration nor an endorsement of astrology, but rather a set of case studies with a bit of improvisation. These portraits in the twelve constellations of the Zodiac are inspired by real people, their hobbies, favorite places, family pets, and so forth. Much of my inspiration came from particular friends or family members who literally match their Zodiac sign, such as an avid swimmer with a birthday under constellation Pisces the Fish and a Sagittarius friend who indeed practices archery. Other cases are less direct interpretations, but still combine the element (fire/earth/air/water) and seasonal phase of each constellation with the qualities of the individual. I aim for these illustrations to contain modern elements while still drawing upon the ancient and universal fantasy of the night sky.
*For reference, I used H.A. Rey's The Stars: A New Way to See Them.