Orionness the Hunter

Astronomer & Artist Stéphanie Juneau with her work for the Exist Project

Astronomer & Artist Stéphanie Juneau with her work for the Exist Project

Interested in the intersection of art and science? For the first round of Exist: Messengers of the Cosmos, the opening scene was a collaboration between writer/narrator Natalie Brewster-Nguyen and Stéphanie Juneau. Both artists researched the mythological stories behind the familiar winter constellation, Orion. Orion is a male hunter that defeated a lion in some versions of modern, North American mythology but in Chinese mythology, the projection of physically unconnected stars represent a white tiger. Taking our own artistic license, these Exist artists made Orion a badass woman with a white tiger headdress who had just slaughtered a lion. Below is the opening narration written and performed by Natalie and an image of the final Orionness set piece by Stéphanie.

The Hunter (many)

Orion (Greco-Roman, western current)

Prajapati (Indian)

Osiris (Egypt)

White Tiger (China, Japan, Vietnam)

Al Jabbar  (medieval muslim)

Tayamnicankhu (Lakota)

The winter maker  Kabibona'kan   (Ojibwa/Chippewa)

Brightest of constellations in the winter sky

You were chasing your daughter

You were hunting in the woods

You were swimming in the sea


The arrow pierced you

The scorpion stung you

Your lover shot you

Your tail turned white

And you were placed in the sky

There in the sky

Your stars

Were seen by many peoples

Many cultures

Your parts were identified

The belt

Was also three marias

three zebras

a spine

And a staff

But you, as a whole constellation

Never have you been a woman.

Until now.