I was delighted by a recommendation to have a look at the beautiful collage work of African American artist, Romare Beardon, whose "A Black Odyssey" is an extraordinary presentation of Homer's The Odyssey. The images are stunning, and the interpretation as poignant and meaningful as its Greek origin. Here's a description from the Smithonian about the original exhibit (now housed at the University of Columbia, NYC):
"Born in Charlotte, N.C., Romare Bearden (1911–1988) moved with his family to Harlem as a young child, part of the Great Migration of African Americans from the inhospitable South to greater opportunity in the North. Throughout his career, Bearden created images of the lives of travelers on their way to and from home, a theme no more powerfully explored than in Black Odyssey, his 1977 series of 20 collages based on episodes from Homer's epic tale "The Odyssey". Bearden had examined classical themes before, but "Odyssey" series expanded his exploration of literary narratives and artistic genres by presenting his own personal reinterpretation of the subject.
In creating a black 'Odyssey' series, Bearden not only staked a claim to the tales of ancient Greece as having modern relevance, he also made the claim of global cultural collage—that as humans, we are all collages of our unique experiences,” said O’Meally. “Indeed, Bearden does not merely illustrate Homer—he is Homer’s true collaborator, and he invites us as viewers to inherit Homer’s tale and interpret it as our own.”
Here's an index of some of the images along with an audio file about the work, including snippets of dramatic readings of the text. And here are a few of my favorites -- though really the enitre collection is stunning. (The top image is of course The Sirens.)
(Images top to bottom: The Sirens, Circe, The Cyclops, Poseiden, The Sea Nymph, Odysseus Returns to Ithaca.)