Images are powerful vehicles for change and with Mary Magdalene Paintings, her growing popularity is inspiring. Iconographers have always painted women in biblical events. At the same time women have not been elevated into their rightful place. They have often been absent, ignored, or forgotten. Jesus invited everyone to change, seek, and know the wisdom of God in a new way. He did not refer to gender but only called us to be followers, mystics, servants, and teachers. He walked among the people 2,000 years ago proclaiming love, forgiveness, and noble participation in the one family created by God.
There are plenty of images that include women at His birth, the foot of the cross, and going to the tomb. There are ample icons of Old Testament figures. Regretfully, women will remain un-named according to the sacred text. The authorities in large part remain unchangeable. However, newly discovered written materials are adding to history, new evidence, and interpretation which promise to change the story and its significance where women are concerned.
The first Mary Magdalene Paintings I want to share is her dictating her gospel.
The four evangelists are often depicted in the same way, seated receiving revelations. Although the Gospel of Mary did not make it into the canon, it is conceivable and we have evidence that she did write and teach after the death of Jesus. Variations of Mary Magdalene paintings help promote her presence in more places than just the resurrection when she saw and understood. The text on the top of the icon reads, What is hidden from you, I will proclaim to you. The phrase is taken from her Gospel. The statement is surprisingly contemporary to inspire the freedom to create Mary Magdalene paintings.
The second icon is called Mary Magdalene writes. In my Mary Magdalene paintings, her growing popularity is highlighted in the image. She was learned, literate, educated, and willing to teach and share the teachings learned from Jesus as his follower. Imagine the number of words one needs to use to convey the mysticism that Christ inspires.
Any biblical event portrayed can reflect mystery, the stories are slightly illogical, contradictory, and timeless. The hand of Mary Magdalene protrudes through the scroll. It is a way of distorting reality. Iconography is a language. The hands that hold the empty books and texts are a reminder that we do nothing alone. The revelation of Christ comes with the help of the “hand of God” and/or the Holy Spirit. The white drape with the Jewish bands of a prayer shawl extended between both buildings is a typical feature, this indicates the event has happened inside.
Two seasons dedicated to Mary Magdalene Paintings, and her Growing Popularity
Christmas and Easter are events that happen back to back in the church year. As I reflect on the two seasons, it strikes me, both seasons could be called the season of women. The birth of Jesus begins with a woman and His life ends in the presence of women at the foot of the cross and the tomb. These two celebrated events are like book ends and could/should be seasonal celebrations to honor the value of women in our societies. The church sidesteps the wisdom and words of women as followers, mystics, servants, and priests twice a year.
The early church fathers and biblical writers named and exhaled apostles, they were all men. Their bias altered sacred text and prevented women from showing their faith and proclaiming their understanding. It would be hard to argue how history might have changed with the fair and equal inclusion of both genders.
The third and fourth icons are examples of Mary Magdalene
It is how ancient iconography might have looked if women were participants in the liturgy. The first is Mary standing on broken ground. It is symbolic of the unsure footing woman have when they attempt to break through the bias given to them in the church. The second has Mary Magdalene painting has her standing on a fishing net, alluding to “we are fishers of women”, as St. Peter is the fisher of men. My intention here is not to name these Mary Magdalene Paintings, but her growing popularity is freeing contemporary icon painters to interpret the past and add new images for the future.
The unorthodox resistance to the images is understandable. She is a women Bishop, still un-named. I leave it to those with an open mind to see if there is room for new cannons. After all, cannons were written, they did not exist in the time of Jesus.
Mary Jane Miller; Byzantine style iconographer living in Mexico. Born in N.Y 1954. Her collections are contemporary, with a proficient command of egg tempera for three decades. The work is extraordinary exhibited in museums and churches in the United States and Mexico. Published books; In Light of Women, Life in Christ,Iconography Revealed, Meditation and iconography, Embossing Metal, and The Mary Collection. She teaches 5-day workshops, //sacrediconretreat
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