Anne W. Brigman (American, Honolulu, Hawaii 1869–1950 Eagle Rock, California)
Gelatin silver print
25.0 x 17.2 cm (9 13/16 x 6 3/4 in.)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933
Not on view
Brigman rejected the everyday in favor of the dreamlike. Through her work she created a pantheon of human, plant, and animal hybrids, offering her own interpretation of literary and mythological subjects. This spatially disorientating image of a woman floating almost weightlessly and enveloped in a textured veil probably alludes to Native American legends that view spiders as symbols of female energy—weavers of fate and creation. More specifically, it may reference Iktomi, a spider that the Lakota Sioux believe to be a supernatural spirit that shapeshifts into human form. Brigman’s willingness to go to extreme lengths to explore her art, defy the traditional role of women, and integrate the human body into the landscape led to a revival of interest in her work by practitioners of the feminist and land art movements during the late twentieth century.