In the 14th century, Dante Alighieri wrote his Divine Comedy, an epic poem perhaps best known for the segment called Inferno, which tells of Dante’s journey through Hell. The text has been translated dozens of times; now the work has received fresh visual interpretation in a grand 10-foot by 5-foot drawing by artist and professor Megan Vossler. Intrigued by her reading of Mary Jo Bang’s contemporary translation, Vossler was inspired to create Geothermia, her own vision of the classic allegory. Her close reading of the text—and 18 months of drawing—resulted in an intricate exploration of the poet’s nine circles of Hell. Not constrained by the concept of circles, Vossler has created a landscape that can be read from left to right, beginning with Limbo, where, Vossler says, “people who weren’t terrible, but didn’t accomplish anything good either, march endlessly through a grassy field of regret.” Each physical landscape provides punishments appropriate to the sins committed. Lust features a tornadolike windstorm, punishment for those with uncontrolled physical desires. Fraud, with the telling text “Trust me,” includes a specific Hell for corrupt politicians, seen sinking into a tarry river.

November 14 2018

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