Elizabeth Colomba (b. 1976) Daphne, 2015 Oil and gold leaf on canvas 36× 24 in. The Studio Museum in Harlem; Museum purchase with funds provided by Neda Young 2017.2
In her series “Mythology,” Elizabeth Colomba continues a long tradition of artists looking to Greek mythology for inspiration. Here, she references the tale of the naiad (a freshwater nymph) Daphne and the gods Cupid and Apollo. Colomba reshapes the myth by positioning a Black woman as the primary subject of the painting, thereby countering the erasure of Black bodies from Classical antiquity narratives. In Daphne, Colomba represents the naiad holding an arrow, Apollo's lyre as the pedestal of the table behind her, and, further in the background, the branches of a laurel tree, into which Daphne is transformed during the climax of her story.