PART 2….. When you stand before an icon for any amount of time, you cannot help but see first the beauty they have as a work of art. A well-done icon is a powerful tool and often provokes insights and visions. Including more iconography of women stimulates new perspectives on a theological issue, which is still in its infancy. Our absence within the fullness of societies and the church is worth discussing. We live in an age of great bigotry, self righteousness and personal isolation. Both genders are experiencing this on many levels. Creating art and Iconography of women is a worthy endeavor.
If you are an ‘iconographer ‘you’re supposed to transcribe the Bible word for word and uphold the theological doctrines. A scribe diligently re-writes original text with no changes. My thinking mind has no reluctance in portraying Mary as the perfected quiet servant and silent mother. Yet, I believe limiting her identity to these attributes has been a hindrance to the development of women. Women’s voices in church institutions, families, and society are still silenced by uncharitable behaviors.
Art and Iconography of Women; In Light of Women.
The icon is from my collection In Light or Women.Jesus is blessing twelve women who are stepping out of a cave to great their teacher. A slight break in the landscape is all that separates them. It represents the small yet treacherous chasm we need to cross for the church to thrive in the future. It will benefit everyone to have the feminine voice and new icon images in today’s church community.
Inquisitive women like myself have always been around Christ, listening to Jesus’s message. It is easy to imagine women cooking and cleaning at the Last Supper, the wedding at Canon and feeding the five thousand. When Christ invited the children, the mothers were there too. I imbued these women with unacknowledged human qualities: those who heal and those who contemplate. Women who teach, those who minister and mystics with their wisdom, live and walk among us.
New images of Women in Iconography
Iconographers believe their work to be God’s boundless presence reflected in sacred text and image. The New Eve can and should live in communion with the New Adam to offset the gender imbalance in science, art, government, religion and all other facets of social life.
World leaders have recently published a statement that declares: “A higher authority did not prescribe the justification and discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition.” It is time for the church Fathers to draft a similar statement.
While painting new images of women in iconography, I am also challenging all denominations within the Christian church to re-frame parts of Holy Scriptures. Priests can and should alter the text to include women. They can refrain from the misguided use of text that perpetuates the idea that men are superior to women. We are told we are One body in God, called to be One mind in Christ. Let us live into that reality where Christian women will serve as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, mystics, healers, teachers and prophets, etc. through image and word. ”
May God bless you and keep you, and may His wisdom fill all that you say and do.
Author Bio. Mary Jane Miller is a self-taught Byzantine style iconographer with over 28 years of experience. Her collection of sacred art is contemporary, unique, and unorthodox at times. She teaches 4 courses annually, 5 day immersion workshops throughout the US and Mexico. website http://sacrediconretreat.com/FACEBOOK Conversations about prayer and iconography.