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The Ship of Theseus

The Ship of Theseus

New work by Deanne Row

The focus of my sculpture has been investigating how our psyche and even our physical body is shaped by experiences, thoughts, beliefs, memories and myths we have about ourselves. I represent those influences by building up written words and images, via papier mache, and then digging back into it to reveal the persona I am creating.

In this new body of work, I consider how much of ourselves remains true as the decades pass by. It is well understood that we do not look the same physically as we age, as we get fit, are injured, heal, consume chemicals or as we devote ourselves to a healthy lifestyle. But science tells us that much of our body is in a constant state of renewal via cell death and replacement. As our body is refreshed, so to speak, are we truly the same person? As the parts of our physical selves are replaced, how does this effect our inner self?

In my current works, I am even more relentless than usual in “reusing” materials. While my sculpture has always been created with repurposed materials, I have paid special attention to putting removed paper and encaustic wax back into the same piece, or another, in this body of work.

Ship of Theseus: A Thought Experiment
Suppose that the famous ship sailed by the hero Theseus in a great battle was kept in a harbor as a museum piece, and as the years went by some of the wooden parts began to rot and were replaced by new ones; then, after a century or so, every part had been replaced. The question then is whether the “restored” ship is still the same object as the original.

The Greek philosopher Plutarch thus questions whether the ship would remain the same if it were entirely replaced, piece by piece. Centuries later, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes introduced a further puzzle, wondering what would happen if the original planks were gathered up after they were replaced, and then used to build a second ship. Hobbes asked which ship, if either, would be the original ship of Theseus.1

1 Wikipedia, “Ship of Theseus.”

Ship of Theseus: A Thought Experiment is a solo exhibition of sculpture and paintings by Deanne Row in the St. Louis Artist Guild Curated Gallery from September 10 through October 16 with an opening reception on September 10.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Papier Mache, found bark and shells, encaustic paint - 10x13x10

Deanne Row can be found at:

St Louis Artist’s Guild
12 North Jackson Avenue
St Louis, MO 63105

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