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Hydra Cancer

24" x 33"

Acrylic paint, water-based paint pen, spray paint, and paper on 1/4" wood board



Do you remember the 12 Labors of Hercules? You at least remember the Lernean Hydra (this one was definitely in the cartoon). Everytime he cuts off a head, two or three more spring up from the cut.

In the original mythology, as Hercules is hacking at the Hydra its friend, Cancer (the crab), shows up to snip at Hercules heels. He steps on it and that's that.

I couldn't help but think it was a friendship that was overlooked just because they're the evil monsters of the tale. So, I decided to put the duo into a painting where they can just hang out forever together. I have silhouettes of the creatures themselves cut out of paper, and I have their constellations drawn out in white paint pen.

As I was researching the two, I happened upon a study that is entirely scientific and not mythological. These tiny creatures in the ocean called Hydra polyps are ancient. Some of the first multicellular life forms on earth. The study discovered that they get cancer. What was amazing about the scientific discovery is that cancer is ancient, even these fairly simple creatures get it. What I found extra intriguing was that hydra and cancer showed up together in the real world. So I painted two large orange Hydra polyps in the background--one of them with a cancerous tumor.