In several of her paintings, Lester includes both direct and indirect references to Marin County, where she currently lives. For example, the work titled “Storms Spell Trouble for Marin (Eris)” is both a literal allusion to the powerful floods which racked the County earlier this year, as well as a metaphor for destructive societal undercurrents lurking in the relationships she sees around her.

In the painting, Lester represents the story of Eris, the personification of Discord and mother of Hunger, Pain, Lies, Quarrels, Killings and Ruin. Here, Eris becomes furious upon learning that she is not invited to Peleus and Thetis’s magnificent wedding. On a beautiful piece of fruit she writes “to the fairest” and proceeds to hurl it at the wedding guests. Hera, Aphrodite and Athena, the three most attractive guests at the wedding, bicker among themselves about who should receive this prize. After they ask Zeus to decide, he enlists Paris to make the final choice. Each of the goddesses promises Paris something. Aphrodite, in granting him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world, wins (a promise that eventually leads to the Trojan War). By asking others to quantify their beauty, Hera, Aphrodite and Athena effectively surrender their power. In Lester’s painting they are represented as three black empty circles with eyes but no mouths. They have effectively lost their voices. Obsessed with being the fairest, they have become entrapped in their own snares. Ironically, the least attractive goddess, Eris, the large, tormented figure on the left of the painting, ends up making her mark in the death and destruction of the Trojan War.

The artist is deeply interested in the roles we play, and what we are willing to embrace in relationships. Often, we inherit patterns of oppression without questioning them. This has clearly played a key role in female identity and its development. The anger evident in Lester’s paintings is powerful and even refreshing, becoming a locus for female strength and creativity. Our all too human struggles--our attempts to connect again and again-- propel the artist’s voice forward.

Site and its contents © 2005 Travis Lester