The Queen of Lydia owned Hercules as a slave for two years and during that time the strongest man in the world was temporarily free of his identity as the greatest of all heroes. He dressed up in women’s clothes and worked at a spinning wheel. He did whatever his Queen asked. Her name, Omphale, is officially associated with the greek word omphalos, which means navel. She was human; he was a god. Through their union the divine and the earthly mingled. They had sex. They created children.
There are two ancient sculptural vessels–one in Delphi and another in Jerusalem–called omphalus that claim to be the center, or navel, of earth. My sculpture Omphale, Queen of Lydia, is a human calling: an invitation to the gods to be with us; it is as if Lydia were back on earth looking for her Hercules. I painted the outside surface of the female abdomen to echo the wings of a male Prepona Omphale butterfly. The inside of the sculpture expresses the Queen’s sexual feelings. The booklet attached to the sculpture includes clips from plays and poems, and my short, short story about the night the god Pan visited the couple in their bedroom.