The Wind Cries Mary, 2023, draws together ideas associated with our inner life and conceptions of soul, spirit and self. It takes inspiration from the enclosed garden of the Virgin Mary, as well as the Greek myth of Psyche, the goddess of the soul, and her ‘labours’ to transcend her earthly world and be emancipated. For LeWitt, Psyche’s story represents the ‘task of survival’, while the garden is a place of protection – ‘simple, undemanding and humble’. Weaving together both ideas, she creates an imaginary allegory of individual freedom and agency.
In medieval religious imagery and poetry, the hortus conclusus, or enclosed garden, encapsulated both ideals of monastic life and harnessing the wildness of nature and women. LeWitt identifies a more interesting connection to the cloistered world of the artist’s mind.
LeWitt’s gardens are interspersed with references to Psyche and the beneficent power of nature in her story, represented by the gentle westerlies of the wind god Zephyrus, which enable Psyche to triumph over death. In her depiction of the wind deities – the southwest wind (Livas), the west wind (Zephyrus) and the northwest wind (Skiron) – LeWitt adopts imagery that draws loosely on the friezes found on the Pýrgos tōn Anémōn in Athens, considered to be the first meteorological station.
Drawing these two recognisable narratives together, The Wind Cries Mary points to a broader idea about caring for the self and looking after the inner mind and, ultimately, expresses what the artist describes as ‘a special feeling of being free … free and safe – free as the wind!’