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Joseph Cecil

Artist Statement

“Viking Gods Evoked”


I am inspired by the stories found in the Poetic Edda, Prose Edda and other books on Norse Mythology. Growing up, I was told I was part Native American and part British. Several years ago, I decided to get a DNA test to learn more about my ancestry. When the DNA results came back, I found something unexpected, I am part Scandinavian descent. I began immersing myself into that culture only to find Norse mythology tends to be misrepresented in contemporary culture. There are a lot of computer games, action movies and comics that have sensationalized Norse mythology. My artwork is an attempt to represent my cultural background in a more dignifying and realistic way.


Through this series of paintings, I created a visual journey of the gods and goddesses of my Viking ancestors. Norse mythology is about the nine noble virtues, valiance, truth, honor, fidelity, discipline, hospitality, self-reliance, diligence and perseverance. The gods and goddesses in Norse mythology look nothing like their Marvel counterparts. The true gods found in the Poetic Edda are more like humans, so much so that if you were to see them walking down the road you would just see them as visitors, guest or friends. I create them the way they were meant to be visualized; powerful yet at the same time vulnerable. They can grow old, get sick, and even die.


I do not paint for the sake of painting alone. I am very much interested in communicating a story. I begin my process by choosing one story from Norse mythology and attempt to understand the moral lesson within. These stories were a way people of the past were able to learn the values and lessons needed to survive in the old world. Even in our contemporary world, there are many lessons we can still learn from the Poetic Edda.


In our contemporary popular culture, the gods of Scandinavian mythology are often portrayed as primitive barbarians or comic book heroes. I hope to share a glimpse into the rich culture of my ancestors. My goal is to communicate through a series of oil paintings a visual experience of the lessons of Asgard. I invite you to share with me my journey with the Norse gods.

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