The artist explains best: “The two central characters standing on the whale are Venus and Galatea. In the clouds are various goddess archetypes of wisdom, motherhood, war, rebirth, wealth, etc. […] they are all working together to create a new world order. One gives birth in the upper left. Others are casting out the toxic gods (paradoxically, there’s always a war in heaven, right?) The harpooneers don’t necessarily have specific identities, but they are working together to rid the world of Moby Dick. Reading the novel, which is one my favorites, I came to see M.D. as an incarnation the “zero sum,” I live, you die, survival of the fittest, destructive aspects of nature. When the crew of the Pequod (left) tried to destroy that aspect of nature, they failed. This coalition of Goddesses, I hope, will succeed where Ahab failed.
“In the bottom register, the sea nymphs on the right are stabilizing Ishmael on Quequeg’s coffin and ferrying him to safety so he can tell what he saw. The other Pequod crew watch the spectacle in awe.”