Karen A. Vournakis
June 17 – August 20, 2004
In celebration of the Greek Spirit and return of the modern Olympic Games to Greece, the Griffin Museum of Photography presents Sacred Groves: Ancient Greek Athletic Sites, an exhibition of photographs of the sites of the original Pan Hellenic Games by Karen A. Vournakis. Sacred Groves is appearing in the museum’s Emerging Artist Gallery, June 17 through August 20.
Beginning around 776 BC, young Greek male athletes gathered at Olympia to compete passionately for the most coveted prize in the Greek world, a wreath of wild olive. The prize was the honor of victory. The games were religious and patriotic festivals attracting crowds from all over Greece and causing rival cities to lay down their weapons as a sacred truce during the period the games were held. Through the games the ancient Greeks expressed one of their defining attributes – the pursuit of excellence through public competition.
In the summer of 2003, Vournakis visited the sites of the four major competitions of the original Pan Hellenic Games: Olympia, site of the first known games; Delphi; Isthmia, near Corinth; and Nemea. Vournakis’ photos go beyond the expected images of the ruins of stadiums, gymnasium, palaestra and hippodrome. Each site provides insight into the religious elements of the games, such as the Great Altar of Zeus at Olympia, the Sacred Grove at Nemea and the Temples of Zeus at Isthmia and Nemea. The natural location of
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each site is also unique. It is the combination of history, religion, and natural beauty that Vournakis so eloquently brings to the viewer and that depict the true splendor of the games.
A resident of Somerville, Vournakis received her BFA in Printmaking/Photography and an MFA in Photography, both from Syracuse University. She has served as a Visiting Professor, Studio Arts at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY and Adjunct Professor of Photography at Syracuse University. Her work is included in the collections of the Biblioteque Nationale, Paris, France, the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse University and the Erie Art Museum, Erie, PA, as well as numerous corporate collections.