"When I assumed the pose of Perseus, I felt a sense of power, confidence, and strength."—Emmanuel von Schack, educator and ASL user
Antonio Canova (Italian, 1757–1822). Perseus with the Head of Medusa, 1804–6. Marble. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Fletcher Fund, 1967 (67.110.1). Learn more about this object.
How does the sculpted body communicate? Hear from Met experts, leading authorities, and rising stars, each with a unique viewpoint on the language of gesture, facial expression, and pose.
Emmanuel von Schack: Hello, I am Emmanuel von Schack, and I'm an educator here at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. American Sign Language influences my relationship to art and especially sculpture, in that inherent in sculpture is facial expression, body language, and postures that affect how we perceive it.
The stance of Perseus with the Head of Medusa is noticeably angled, like this. When I assumed the pose of Perseus, I felt a sense of power, confidence, and strength. And, interestingly, the difference between standing flat-footed and having my back heel raised was noticeable. With my heel up, I felt even more powerful. With my back foot on the ground, I had a sense of power, but not as much as when my heel was raised. The upward and outward extension of the body signifies a triumphant moment of achievement.
ASL relies upon body movement and facial expression to convey emotions. If I were discussing confidence, my signing style would be produced in a more forceful manner, like this. If I were discussing fearfulness or nervousness, it would be embodied in my presentation. The stance of the statue affects how I will feel when I discuss it in ASL.