Women’s voices in religious iconography as well as in Christian theology has been lacking for 2,000 years. Christian religious iconography and art has typically focused on Mary, Mother of Jesus whose holiness the everyday woman could not possibly attain. She also is praised for her obedience and silence, a heart filled with love yet no reference to mind. But it is documented that inquisitive women like myself were around in Christ’s time, listening to His message and learning from Him. Where are the images of these women, where is their wisdom? Catholic Church teachings as we know them were once considered unchangeable but because of newly discovered texts and the contemporary phrasing of old theology, we cannot help but reexamine who we are in God. There is a movement underway for a modern Catholic ideology about women’s issues inside the church and out. The movie industry has taken the subject into the public like never before. The book I have created, In Light of Women, fits perfectly into this new debate and conversation.
The visual language of the sacred art of iconography has cultivated my own rebellious spirit. With my book, I want to address the possibility of a new attitude: that women can stand equally beside men in a more contemporary vision of the world. Christ’s teachings regarded women in a variety of roles and the consequences of editing them out of theology has hurt everyone. While I am deeply respectful of the iconography tradition and knowledgeable of its long history, I want my book to challenge the male-dominated church landscape of today’s theology.
In Light of Women Our 72-page book incorporates 24 full-color icons, The images are juxtaposed with text that includes religious history, religious context and my own reflection inspired by my meditation and thoughts during 25 years of dedication to this ancient technique and prayer form. The contemporary icons are done in the ancient medium of tempera which utilizes a mixture of egg yolk and ground earth pigments. The book includes a thorough introduction and three distinct sections that build to my most dynamic and contemporary works highlighted in the book. Part 1, Mary Icons; explore the history of Mary’s image in iconography through the tradition’s most popular images of her. Part 2, The Gospel of Mary Magdalene; explores icons that were inspired by the Gnostic text with some creative insights from traditional theology. Part 3, Feminine Voice; explores classic icons interpreted with women added to them.
The book is timely, important, interesting, with new perspectives and questions to be asked. In the time of Christ I like to think any women named Mary was special. Mary was the name given to women who were teachers, intelligent, healers, mystics and more. Mary walks with us in this new age and is just beginning to speak.
The book lends itself as a great resource for books groups and women’s studies, or lectures to stimulate dialogue one icon at a time.
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