I am a modern artist, one of the few women contemporary iconographers.
I am a practicing Christian. For half of my life, I have been dedicated to the practice of contemporary iconography painting, or as some would call it, icon writing. My new paintings of women in contemporary Iconography have become a recent curiosity and inspiration for women around the world. I would like to share several observations and radical conclusions I encountered while searching for recent and old Christian paintings or icons of depicted women.
Let’s Start at The Beginning of My Byzantine Icon Painting Analysis
It is the beginning of time, the story of Adam and Eve.
The biblical account defines Eve as being created second to Adam and responsible for original sin.
Yes, it emphasizes the long standing idea that women were created as a sort of afterthought and, of course, the poor women are responsible for original sin (at least in the eyes of ancient men). This idea would imply that God had made a mistake.
How is it that all of humanity’s sin ends up hanging on the temptation in the garden? How did that translate into evil sexual behavior provoked by females? Yes, I know, it was the idea of ancient men.
In Ancient Times, Women could not Write Icons
Later sacred text goes on “Women should remain silent in the churches. They may not speak…” 1 Corinthians 14:34. The new testament includes plenty of verses that ultimately prohibit women from serving in positions of authority. The like of which has affected every women’s place in society for 2,000 years. In actuality, beginning as early as the fourth century, the dominant Christian leaders, all men, distorted Holy Scriptures. It may not have been intentional to thwart the ascendant positions of influence for women. But, religious hierarchy in christian societies set the stage for our silence.
Sacred Christian Images of Women
The underlying teachings of Jesus Christ, all call for the proper and fair treatment of God’s children. I have always known in my heart and soul, women are not inferior to men. Without a doubt God loves humanity equally. As an iconographer, self taught and inspired, I have not had to look far to see this glorious tradition has failed to include women. Women could not be iconographers working on their own. Looking at the evidence, the male iconographers did not include of women in principle events. However, the disciples, all men are recorded in Baptism, Pentecost and The Last Supper iconography.
Ironically, women in contemporary Iconography may hold the means to preserve this great sacred art form’s survival today. Many women artists are graced with the desire to paint contemporary images of sacred text. We have an obligation as prayer practitioners to re-examine how or why women are barely mentioned. It is not God’s commandment they are not heard of in text or seen in a sacred image. It is possible, when the feminine voice and new icon images are ushered into today’s church community. The addition will benefit us all.