Inspired by last year’s 100 Days of Dante reading challenge, Maura decided to create a photo illustration for each canto of Dante’s Divine Comedy (34 for the Inferno, 33 for Purgatory, and 33 for Paradise). Her show, “An Illustrated Comedy: From Hell to Heaven,” showcases the result of this artistic endeavor.
Using the translations of Inferno, Purgatory, and Paradise by Dr. Anthony Esolen, Maura selected 2-3 lines of poetry from each canto as the starting inspiration for each composite. Early on, Maura was eager to see all 100 illustrations together as one representation of this classic text.
The experience most people have with Dante’s Divine Comedy is often limited to the sensational passages from the Inferno and the contrapasso punishments connected to each sin. Yes, there is a lot of fire in Hell, but also, at the deepest part, blasts of cold, frozen tears, and ice. What I liked about the 100 Days of Dante reading challenge is that it invited me to push through and read the rest of the poem.
I find that my illustrations for the Inferno are, of course, darker—blues and blacks with intense oranges. The Purgatory illustrations rely on colors that are slightly more saturated and distinct. Paradise is more gold, yellow, and light orange. To me, they seem to whisper. Considering all 100 illustrations as a whole, there is a concluding “illumination” to the body of work, especially the final 10-12 cantos.
Artwork for 24 cantos will be on display plus one larger piece showcasing all 100 illustrations that invites the visitor’s pilgrim eye to move through Hell to Heaven (Inferno, Canto I through to Paradise, Canto XXXIII).