Coloring is a fast growing trend among over-stressed adults. “Soothing coloring pages” are a top Google search item. There are coloring books featuring mandalas, garden scenes, inspirational quotes, and even curse words written in fancy calligraphy sprouting branches, flowers, and swirls eager to be illuminated with colored pencils toted by hipsters, young professionals, retirees, clergy, and other adults searching for artistic ways to tap their creative spirit and sooth their jangled nerves. Articles—popular and academic—whose authors range from psychologist to spiritual director purport the power of coloring to calm anxiety, relieve stress, and provide a creative and spiritual outlet. Is this a feminist issue? I’d say so.
There are, indeed, feminist coloring books and goddess coloring books, though I’ve seen very little that fuses together both feminism and religion. In order to fill this gap, while also seeking to expand my own creative expression, I have finally completed the drawings for my forthcoming Holy Women Icons Contemplative Coloring Book.
Each month, I write a post about one of my with a . I lift up the story of a revolutionary woman who is too often overlooked in society or in religious spheres. I draw inspiration from the lives of these women as I canonize them into the sainthood of because it is important for women to see themselves as holy, to see icons who reflect their identity. In painting their images, I give iconography a folk feminist twist.
For years I have researched and painted these women. In 2014 I compiled my research and paintings into a book: . Soon after came . Currently, several of the paintings are on “tour” throughout the United States. Now I am thrilled that you can join me in the creative process by coloring these myriad holy women! 38 drawings are complete, ready for proofing, editing, and the watchful eye of my publisher. Before that, though, I’d like to hear from you. What would be most meaningful for you in a Holy Women Icons Contemplative Coloring Book?
Would you like to simply have the coloring pages with the name of the woman listed at the top? Or would you like a brief description of the woman at the bottom of the page to better aid you in coloring?
Should a small image of my painting of each woman accompany the coloring page for reference or would this hamper your creative spirit? Would you like a reference guide at the back of the coloring book with brief descriptions of each woman?
Could an opening page with a guided meditation at the beginning of the book prove meaningful?
Be a part of this process with me, bold religious feminists!
To give you a closer glimpse, below is a sample. It is the coloring page of the Our Lady of Regla, in this instance syncretized with Yemanya. Regla is a black Madonna venerated by many, but particularly in Cuba. And Yemanya is themother of all Orishas in Yoruba. Syncretized together they embody empathy, nurture, and compassion. As you color this page, allow each dot to function like a prayer or meditation bead. In the same way you might utter a prayer or mantra as you hold each bead, utter a prayer or mantra as you color each dot. Perhaps you could say the names of those you wish to show empathy. Or you may want to simply repeat the word, “empathy,” each time you fill in a dot. As you color the rest of the page, contemplate how you may also love endlessly. Invite love to guide your creative process.
Now, let me hear from you. As these 38 coloring pages make their way through the editing process and become an official coloring book, I’d like to know how to create a finished product that will provide the most inspiration and empowerment possible! So, tell me what would be meaningful for you and your communities. And, together, I think we may be able to make this world more peaceful and beautiful…one coloring page at a time. Be bold. Be creative. Join me in creating revolutionary, justice-centered beauty!
Rev. Dr. Angela Yarber has a PhD in Art and Religion from the Graduate Theological Union at UC Berkeley and is author of , , , , , and . She has been a clergywoman and professional dancer and artist since 1999. For more on her research, ministry, dance, or to purchase one of her icons, visit: