Working Title: Madonna In Redux
Contact: Jennifer Brown | Jenmakeswork.com
Muta predicatio. The catholic church considers art to be a form of silent preaching in which the illiterate and uneducated could understand the significance of a story or person through the works of art that venerated them. For instance, the Virgin Mary has quite a few symbols including almonds for the Lord’s favor, lilies for purity, and three stars for her virginity before, during, and after Christ’s birth. The pear symbolises the fruit of her womb while the iris and seven swords tell of her sorrow in Christ’s death.
The evangelical religious culture I grew up in didn’t have much to say to me. As a woman, a sexual abuse survivor, or a mother, there are only a handful of things I could point to and none of them could be considered healthy.
Mary was a woman that experienced the broad diversity of life’s emotions. She endured immense trauma and great joy, but the lesson the church hands to us throughout its history is this: Your virtue and worth are examined, judged, and written into antiquity by your relationships with men and children, the status of your hymen, the quietness of your suffering, and the meekness of your spirit.
With so little to be said for those of us who have endured trauma, loss, sickness, bareness… where can we turn? With this in mind, I am embarking on a small series to venerate modern saints in relation to depictions of the Madonna and Child. Collaborating with each participant, I will venerate their stories of overcoming, grief, rage, and joy while forging a new lexicon and symbolism for women.
I need mothers and caretakers to volunteer their stories and experiences in collaboration with me. We will go through the experience and create relics like crowns, halos, scepters etc. to be included in an environmental portrait of the storyteller (you do not need to be a model or particularly comfortable in front of a camera). Example subjects include:
Mental health, loss of a child including still birth, miscarriage, or death, separation from a partner, fertility challenges, adoption/fostering, sickness, sexual assault, eating disorder, working mothers (particularly a mother who pumps or nurses at work), experiences unique to the LGBTQIA community, and to women and people of color.
To collaborate on this project or learn more, please contact me via the information above before July 20th.