Prehistoric Feminine Icons

In this blog post I’d like to take you with me on a recent visit to the special exhibition “Arts and Prehistory”* in the Museum of Mankind (Musée de l’Homme) in Paris.**

Like the Feminine Power in London exhibition I wrote about last year, this is another ode to human imagination and creativity in connection to the mystery of life.

The exhibition features women figurines and cave paintings from dating between 26.000-34.000 years old, and I wonder how these prehistoric icons can inspire us to look at female bodies today…

Continue reading “Prehistoric Feminine Icons”

Turning Five by Sarah Frykenberg

My daughter turned five years old this week. I am now a five-year-old-mother of one. Big Five <3. I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that this is the age when children’s brains are developed enough to start creating more permanent memories of their childhood. What will my daughter’s earliest memories be when she is grown?

Four was a pretty chock-full year.

Fires—though those may seem like just another California season to her by now. Pandemic; staying home with Mommy, Daddy, and our new roommates, Auntie and Uncle for weeks on end.

Learning to ride a bike.

Pages upon pages of art, including a whole notebook almost exclusively dedicated to her “study” of “Hazel Vampire” (I blame Uncle and Auntie for this one).

Pandemic. More pandemic.

Continue reading “Turning Five by Sarah Frykenberg”

The Mask and the Mirror – Part 3 By Sara Wright

Artist Debra Fritts

One concrete way of accomplishing this change is to submerge ourselves in the rest of Nature and stay open to the appearance of animals, birds, plants, etc., and by paying close attention to images and words, nudges, synchronicities, dreams, and fantasies. Especially while caregiving, perhaps the most exhausting job of all. S/he provides us with a means to deal with the crisis of Covid 19 by staying in the present moment as much as we possibly can. Debra’s flowers/ four-leaf clovers, owls, stars, all speak to the importance of the presence of nature in different ways.

It is hard to miss the change of expression on Everywoman’s face. Held by the bear, her eyes are focused and there is a sense of peace that permeates the woman’s countenance. Clearly, Everywoman is able to be present to what is. This woman has once again found home.

To the right and below the moon there is a small leaf-like image that seems to be drifting. When I asked Debra what the image was she responded that the leaf was a simplified four-leaf clover. It symbolized the role that luck plays in the spread of an impersonal virus, but memories of being with her grandfather on Sunday afternoons searching for four-leaf clovers, and the way the two were connected with nature were also part of the reason she included this image. Once again we see the archetypal and the personal intersecting in Debra’s work. On an archetypal level, the impersonal presence of luck/trickster/fool determines viral outcomes, on a personal level this symbol attaches Debra to nature and her love for family.

Continue reading “The Mask and the Mirror – Part 3 By Sara Wright”

Moments of Beauty by Sara Frykenberg

Last week a friend of mine started a post asking people to share something that they’ve enjoyed or appreciated since shelter-at-home orders began across the country and globe. This friend was in no way trying to minimize the very difficult situations that so many of us find ourselves facing during this pandemic. Rather, the list she elicited and generated helped to create, at least for me, a moment of hope or peace—a moment that I suspect many of us need right now.

Inspired by my friend (who has quite a talent for pointing out the potential for joy or happiness), I would like to add to her list here by sharing a couple of my “moments of beauty” in the hopes I can share this hope or peace. Continue reading “Moments of Beauty by Sara Frykenberg”

The Cuisine Cards by Laurie Goodhart

Suit of Tomatoes

With every wonderful, heart-wrenching, deeply researched, and inspiring  post I read on F.A.R., I feel less inclined to share my own somewhat out-of-step contributions to this world. Nevertheless, I keep reminding myself that they are the things that I do, and I do them because I feel compelled, and have consistently been compelled in those two specific directions — art and agriculture/wildcrafting — since childhood. Also, the paintings and prints are a product of my always thinking about and feeling into both feminism and spirituality, and the fruits of the intersection of the two. So here is another offering.

I’ve always had a fondness for the visual aspect of playing cards, and collect books on them. One image of an uncut sheet of cards printed in 1585 in Frankfurt, where the black and white cards were jammed in every which way on large sheets of paper, inspired the look of these four prints, The Cuisine Cards.

They are conceived as celebrating food and cultures from various parts of the world. The face cards are non-hierarchical in terms of rank and gender. The 10 is a Table of the suit’s food, then there are the Shaper, Mover, and Taster, who, although usually carrying on in a certain sequential order, each contribute equal value to the whole experience of eating food. Two suits have all female face cards and two all male.

Continue reading “The Cuisine Cards by Laurie Goodhart”

Archy and Mehitabel by Barbara Ardinger

Archy the Cockroach and Mehitabel the Cat were introduced to the world in 1916 by Don Marquis, a columnist for the New York Evening Sun. Marquis was more than a mere columnist; he was a social commentator and satirist admired by nearly every famous writer of the first quarter of the 20th century. Franklin P. Adams, for example, said Marquis was “far closer to Mark Twain than anybody I know” (see note).

As the story goes, Marquis said he came into his office one morning to find a big cockroach jumping about on his typewriter keys. The cockroach kept climbing up the metal frame and hurling itself headfirst onto a key, one slow letter after another. He couldn’t use the shift lock (except one time when he hit it accidentally and produced an entire uppercase column), so his writing is lowercase. After about an hour, Marquis reported, the cockroach fell to the floor, exhausted after typing just one page. He never could manage punctuation, and he also had trouble with the carriage return—how many of us remember how those old typewriters worked?—but he somehow hit it every time. (My grandfather had an old typewriter like this. The keys were very stiff. I felt like my little fingers were gonna break when I tried to type.)



In his previous life, Archy was a free verse poet. As he explains to Marquis,

expression is the need of my soul

i was once a vers libre bard

but i died and my soul went into the body of a cockroach

it has given me a new outlook upon life

i see things from the under side now

Continue reading “Archy and Mehitabel by Barbara Ardinger”

Reimagining the Classroom: Embodied Ecofeminism and the Arts Course on Hawai’i Island by Angela Yarber

“The classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy.”-bell hooks

Like many academics, my “in the box” dream was to be a professor. The full-time, tenured kind. Like many queer feminist academics, I know that such dreams are rarely reality. When you’re also an artist and activist with a strong penchant for wanderlust, these dreams are simply unattainable fairytales. Never one for “in the box” living, I left the traditional academy and traditional church years ago, wandering over the garden’s walls with Lilith as my intrepid guide. I’ve told the story before. My wife and I left our jobs, sold our home, traveled full-time with our toddler, and turned the Holy Women Icons Project into a non-profit while building an off-grid tiny house on the television show Tiny House Nation in Hawai’i. It’s become old news. But since we’ve been doing this for several years now, those faraway dreams are finally starting to become reality. The academic classroom, the activist’s platform, the artist’s studio, the feminist’s megaphone, and the farmer’s orchard are fusing into one creative, life-giving, empowering space for teaching. The Holy Women Icons Project’s first academic course, “Embodied Ecofeminism and the Arts,” is actually happening. Seminarians and doctoral students from Berkeley join us in January. They’re soon followed by undergraduates from New York and seminarians from Atlanta. And I’m reaching out to more and more schools interested in creatively, subversively, and sustainably decolonizing the classroom with us for one week on the Big Island.

Continue reading “Reimagining the Classroom: Embodied Ecofeminism and the Arts Course on Hawai’i Island by Angela Yarber”

What I Learn from Women in Southern Morocco by Laura Shannon

I feel deeply fortunate to be able to travel regularly to southern Morocco. In Taroudant in the Souss Valley, and further south in the Anti-Atlas Mountains, my groups of students have the chance to discover women’s cultural traditions including music and dance, weaving and embroidery, household and healing rituals. In the seven years I have been leading these tours, women have joined me from a dozen different countries and as many different faiths, and most of them end up feeling at home here just the way I do.
What makes southern Morocco so special? Many threads come together to create the extraordinary ambience which permeates this part of the country. First of all, there is the Berber influence: a large percentage of Moroccans in the South are Berbers, and many elements of ancient North African Berber culture, with roots in Neolithic times, remain percepible beneath the relatively recent overlays of Arabic culture and Islam.

Continue reading “What I Learn from Women in Southern Morocco by Laura Shannon”

Adoring God in Labor by K Kriesel

The day before the 2019 Nevertheless She Preached conference at First Baptist Church of Austin, TX my own Catholic church’s young adult ministry hosted Eucharistic Adoration. Although I’ve enjoyed Adoration dozens of times, several factors made this evening different. I was preparing for cervical surgery for one. My Hebrew Bible class at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary was grappling with Rebekah, Rachel, Leah, and the voiceless Dinah. The call to write the history of 20th century Catholic women theologians had been at my ear all day. The catalyst was when two men at the Adoration began leading a song about God the Father.

Maybe it was just the incense but I swear I saw something. An image of the baby crowning from the womb, God gasping in labor, as the Eucharist wore the gold of the monstrance as a crown before the tabernacle. God was pushing the Body of Christ into creation while I prayed for my own sick body. God was crying out with the voices of these thousands of unheard women. We were all there. I snuck out my phone and took a picture, determined to put the scene to paper.

Continue reading “Adoring God in Labor by K Kriesel”

THREE POEMS OF LIFE by Janet Maika’i Rudolph

As Above So Below

Yes, I believe we are made in god’s image.

If god is the wild, passionate, loud, sexual, sizzling, dancing fires of creation.

And should I ever forget my fiery, heavenly vision, the sun comes out every day to remind me.


And I ask myself, which is more miraculous? Our local star feeding earthly life?

Or me, reflecting the sun, feeling the passion, sizzling in response?

Jacob Dreams and So Do We

(inspired by Genesis 28:12)

As darkness slips into light,


with its unique melody,

grows brighter.

As light slips into darkness,


with its mysterious possibilities,

settles softly upon the land.


Creation is oneness, but we need duality to experience sex, symphonies, hot fudge sundaes.

Creation is pure love, but it is to the passions of the human heart that we owe our earthwalk


Dawn and dusk hold open the thresholds of mystery inviting our human hearts to experience . . .

The sacred dance where one becomes two becomes three.

The sacred song where three becomes two becomes one.


Pele’s Birth Dance

Twinkling stars ignite waves of fire that explode into a tumultuous, joyful noise:



And Mother Earth awakens.


Matter bathed in Pele’s cauldron flares up, erupting into waves of baby earth while roaring:



As seeds rise from great watery oceans of fire, my heart swells, breathing air into newly forged matter and causing my breath to become song:




that reflects flame-drenched stars,

that reflects Pele’s dance,

that reflects the passionate seed,

echoes within my belly until I glow with waves of love which burst forth to sing:

“I AM, I AM, I AM.”


And then . . .

Riding a watery wave that gushes forth new life, my newborn erupts from my body, then twinkles, then cries tumultuous joyful noise:


(Note: “Eh yeh” is God’s name in phonetic Hebrew as given to Moses in Genesis 3:14. “I am” is its traditional translation into English)


Janet Rudolph has written three books on the subject of ancient Biblical Teachings.  One Gods: The Mystic Pagan’s Guide to the Bible, When Eve Was a Goddess: A Shamanic Look at the Bible, and the just recently released book, When Moses Was a Shaman. For more information visit her website at /


Birds, Their Song Stills My Heart by Deanne Quarrie


I see you perched on the tree
checking the perimeter for cats lurking.
The feeder below, inviting you down
but you, ever cautious,
make sure that none are about.

Suddenly the sparrows swarm in,
eagerly eating the seed offered.
They flit and flap, and fly about,
scattering seed as they cover the feeder.

Throwing caution to the wind,
down you fly,
eager for your share of the offerings.

You find treats on the ground,
seeds from the tallow above,
a seed so large,
from my window, I see it in your mouth.

I watch you prance, a friend joining you,
Your perky crest and colorful plumage,
your morning dance brings pleasure
as I ponder my coming day.
over my first cup of coffee.

Continue reading “Birds, Their Song Stills My Heart by Deanne Quarrie”

A Lament by Karen Leslie Hernandez


Dear World.


You are

On fire.



Do you condone


And time


The guns

The hate

The greed

The violence

The oppression.


Why do you not speak

For all.

Continue reading “A Lament by Karen Leslie Hernandez”

Generosity and Community: the Alternative Worldview of Women’s Ritual Dance, Part 1 by Laura Shannon

My life’s work with traditional women’s circle dances of Eastern Europe and the Near East has been a natural interweaving of feminism, activism and Goddess spirituality. In more than thirty years of experience, my students and I have gained valuable insight into their potential as tools for healing and transformation.

These simple and ancient dances connect us with women’s ritual practices from the past which are rooted in a Goddess-reverent paradigm honouring the earth, the body and the female face of the divine. In the present day, the practice of mindfully dancing traditional circle dances which embody this worldview can help us imagine and create a more equitable society in the future.

Continue reading “Generosity and Community: the Alternative Worldview of Women’s Ritual Dance, Part 1 by Laura Shannon”

Lei by Elisabeth S.

Mauro Drudi’s installation of LEI (SHE/HER/YOU – formal) in the Chiesa de San Cristoforo on the Sicilian island of Ortigia where I usually take a bus to daily has become the shrine of women I’ve been searching for. Each time I cry, I am glad I can feel something: those tears are a mixture of communion, comfort, and recognition.

When one enters the church, there are two converging walls. On either side, a woman’s face is painted in shadow and light, gazing off toward the light, is reproduced over and over so that the number of women looks almost countless. They are the same face, a reproduction of Antonello da Messina’s “Annunziata” in the mode of pop art. The difference is not in expression. They all wear the same thoughtful, complicated, neutral countenance, holding deep thoughts and experiences of suffering and wise knowing, both acceptance and maybe resistance; they have lived and might be any age, although I see in our connection my own. The difference is between glossy, unblemished surfaces of wood vs. surfaces weathered, slightly ragged, sometimes scribbled on with ink. The former, found on the right when one enters supposedly represents the “positive” woman, the “western woman [. . . representing someone] happy, gorgeous, well-kept.” On the left, about these representations, Drudi says, “Which artist can paint the skin of a woman who has been abused, beaten, exploited, captivated or disfigured with acid? In my opinion, nobody, and so I let the material speak: the wall of a beach hut destroyed by a storm; woods and materials used and abused [. . .]; exhausted panels deriving from carrying tons of goods, tables, packagings, production wastes.”

Continue reading “Lei by Elisabeth S.”

Death and Re-birth through a Project by Elisabeth S.

Art by Magdalena_Korzeniewska

For about a year and a half, I have been working on a collection of poetry that I feel is worth something. I have been writing poetry since I scribed pages hidden between my math textbook when I was 9, gone through poetry workshops in graduate school where I produced a creative thesis, and continued to write off-and-on after that. I have an extensive cornucopia of poetry, but it was around last October of 2016, perhaps, that I decided to write my experience.

As a pre-teen, I wrote about what I thought my life could be, fantasizing about being an older woman with mottled relationships, missing opportunities to discuss my fragile relationship with my parents as the only-child-golden-child, my passion and doubts as a religious, my shame at not being more experienced. Even when I was in graduate school for poetry in Ohio, I didn’t think my life was worth excavating. I wrote dreamy, dense poetry that was surreal and symbolic but largely incoherent. I could again have written about my evolving religious beliefs, my curiosities and risks I took living outside of my home state of Oklahoma as a young woman for the first time, my declining relationship with my mother, or my insecurities again, but this time as a lesser-prepared graduate student in comparison with my literary and theory-laden colleagues.

On one hand, some might say the culture I come from is narcissistic and navel-gazing. I would agree, but just like I feel women can sometimes be selfish in a quite necessary and liberating way (as opposed to those around her accusingly saying she is “so selfish” for abandoning them/following her own path/needing a room of her own), I feel the confessional and self-reflective can be the healing and helpful side of the coin. For me, at least in my experience, my “finished” collection feels exactly this way.

Continue reading “Death and Re-birth through a Project by Elisabeth S.”

Israel Francisco Haros Lopez by Sara Wright

Borderless Haiku:

We have forgotten the names of each other underneath the shedding skin those names written in our blood that have danced to tonantzin tonatiuh before they knew they were lovers. (IFHL)

Last week I was fortunate to have attended a poetic reading and performance by a remarkably gifted young Mexican man named Israel Francisco Haros Lopez who was born to immigrant parents in Los Angelos. He is both a visual and performance artist, and his work transcends borderlands of all kinds. Israel believes that it is critical to honor and remember the ancestors so that we may once again become one with the winged ones, all those who crawl or walk on this earth, the Four Directions, Earth Air Fire and Water,  Tonanztin and Tonatiuh – the Aztec Earth Goddess and the Sun God – Israel’s expression of unity in divinity, and the universe as a whole. His visual motifs are drawn from Pre – Columbian America and his work is an attempt to search for personal truths within the context of today’s world incorporating Mexican/Indigenous stories into the whole.

Continue reading “Israel Francisco Haros Lopez by Sara Wright”

Brigid from The Goddess Project: Made in Her Image by Colette Numajiri

She is the reason BRIDES wear white, swan-like wedding gowns. Brides veil themselves like the Goddess herself, Whom all Bridegrooms honor, until revealing Herself to Her chosen groom. Tiny flowers and shamrocks are said to bloom in Her wake, She brings new life.

BRIDGET BRIGHT by Hedgewytch

She is known as Brigid Bright,
Goddess who shines against the night.
At Cille Dara, at the setting sun,
Her sacred flame is kept by one.
Nineteen times the earth turns round,
As sacred springs come forth the ground.
Twenty times the sun has burned,
And now the Goddess has returned.
Alone she tends her thrice-bright flame,
Born of her heart that bears her name.
The Dagda knows Brigid as Daughter,
Triple Blessed by fire and water.
Poets call her name to inspire.
And healers oft gain from her fire.
Wayland too would know her well
As hammer and anvil ring like a bell.
A sorrowful cry did she give meaning,
When first she brought to Eire keening.
Oh Sacred Fire against darkest night,
Burn for Brigid, for Brigid Bright!
Fire in the head…to quicken us.
Fire in the cauldron…to heal us.
Fire in the forge of the heart…to temper us.

Continue reading “Brigid from The Goddess Project: Made in Her Image by Colette Numajiri”

Sophia from The Goddess Project: Made in Her Image by Colette Numajiri

“Happy are those who find wisdom. . . . She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. . . Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called happy” (Proverbs 3: 13, 15, 17-18).

Sophia is DIVINE WISDOM, Her name comes from the feminine Greek word meaning Holy Wisdom. She is found all over the Bible (Proverbs, Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon..) and in the Gnostic Gospels (unearthed at Nag Hammadi in 1947.) She has been called the MOTHER OF THE UNIVERSE, Mother of Yahweh and HOLY SPIRIT. The words: “Philosophy, theosophy and sophiology” all come from Sophia. The Bible links her to Christ: “Christ is the Wisdom (Sophia)” (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30). There is some evidence that Mary Magdalene was also called “Mary Sophia.”

Because She did not help advance the patriarchal scheme, Sophia was all but deleted from history. Hidden throughout the Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls, knowledge of the DIVINE FEMININE all but went up in flames. Even a great cathedral build in Her honor in Constantinopole, Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom), was burned to the ground twice. It’s newest rebuild was a mosque and is now a museum. NOTRE DAME (Our Lady) has survived but they eventually claimed it was named after the Virgin Mary. (The famous Notre Dame rose windows are a common symbol of the Divine Feminine!). Some say there are secret societies that still exist to keep knowledge of Her alive.

Continue reading “Sophia from The Goddess Project: Made in Her Image by Colette Numajiri”

Saving Joan of Arc by Natalie Weaver

I’m finished with my first semester as a studio arts major at Kent State University.  I am not sure whether I’ll be registering for a second one.  There were pros and cons about the experience, and I am not sure if one set outweighed the other. Regardless, I am on sabbatical this spring, have two books to complete, and figured I would do well not to be trekking back and forth in an hours worth of snow and ice over the next few months from my home to the school.  So, I am taking a semester off, and I have become one of those retention risks. I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the experience with only minimal consequence to my bank account and my (laughing) future in the arts.

It wasn’t a bad experience; it wasn’t a good one either, really.  I learned some things in drawing, but I am very much on the fence about my experience in sculpture.  For starters, I imagined playing with clay and making pinch pots while some Swayzesque spirit from beyond rubbed my shoulders.  Instead, I was more Jessica Beal with a welding mask, except, instead of wearing a swanky black leotard and off-the-shoulder-slouch-dance tunic, I was wearing ugly jeans and steal-toed shoes under the green welding suit that had half-dollar size holes in it.  The protective gear only partially worked; I was scared of the tools after a classmate almost lost a finger; and the top of my hair went up in smoke when a spark shot under my ill-fitting Vader hat on week two.  I put it out quickly, fortunately.

Continue reading “Saving Joan of Arc by Natalie Weaver”

Depicting Mary by Natalie Weaver

In October I had the opportunity to travel to the Louvre Museum on a free day I had from a conference I was attending in Leuven, Belgium.  I went predisposed to consider images of the Madonna as I had been thinking about her representations in art for some time.  In my own painting, I have been developing a version of the Annunciation that depicts Mary as a teenage girl reading a pregnancy test.  Her fear and consternation, coupled by the shock of the event of learning of her pregnancy strikes me as a more accessible telling of the true vulnerability and risk of the unwed child Mary than classic depictions of Mary as a reclining queenly figure quietly receiving the angel’s message.  I likewise had been working on a wood burnt figure of a Black Madonna as a study in both icon making and also understanding the tradition of Black Madonnas found throughout Eastern Europe.

I am deeply aware that representing this figure is a culturally laden task because the Madonna speaks both to some of the deepest spiritual needs and inclinations of many faithful Christians world over, just as she is almost shorthand for division among Christian communities.  Her presentation is tremendously political as it is received by fans and critics simultaneously as at once championing women (and the divine within women) and also condemning real women whose maternity and bodies can never be as morally or physically pristine as Mary’s.  Mary’s skin, clothing, age, gesturing, posture, gaze, and more speak volumes about the social location of her patrons and creators as well as the manner in which the viewer is being invited to receive her.

Continue reading “Depicting Mary by Natalie Weaver”

Holy Women Icons Bearing the Light of Advent by Angela Yarber

There’s nothing like the holiday season to bring out everyone’s least feminist self. In one of the courses that I teach—Gender, Food, and the Body in Popular Culture—students are assigned to examine gender roles throughout the holiday season through the lens intersectional ecofeminism. Inevitably, almost every student returns from holiday break with the same assessment: mom, grandma, and a kitchen full of women prepare, cook, and clean every family meal; women do the holiday shopping; men in the family watch sports. Of course, this isn’t true of everyone. There are plenty of families who subvert and dismantle stereotypical gender roles, but the holidays seem to heighten these roles, undergirding them with some kind of nostalgic and theological weight that claims that if mama doesn’t arduously prepare her famed casserole, the season will be ruined. Otherwise committed feminists find themselves singing carols filled with sexist language and participating in holiday rituals that they would critique any other time of the year. Subversion be damned because we want our traditional family holiday!

I’ve long struggled with creative ways to subversively approach the holidays as a queer clergywoman, parent, artist, and author. People like their nostalgic and heart-warming traditions, even when they sometimes smack of patriarchy, racism, and heteronormativity. I’ve confronted this as a preacher and worship planner, often to raised eyebrows or angry phone calls from congregants who just want to sing the carols without the preacher changing the words, or dismissing the notion of a virgin birth, or hanging enormous paintings of pregnant women all over the sanctuary.

Continue reading “Holy Women Icons Bearing the Light of Advent by Angela Yarber”

Gaining Perspective by Natalie Weaver

I don’t know if I could be a deep-sea welder.  I don’t know what the risks of lethal electrocution, broken limbs, or the bends would be.  I suspect it can be a dangerous occupation, like operating heavy equipment on good old dry land or fishing for crab or even collecting garbage from the neighbors’ driveways.  So too is this the case with window washing, paving, disposing of medical waste, brick making, driving a giant tanker truck, and more.  There are aspects of the world I know I take for granted, but the moment I stop to consider what those aspects might be, I am humbled and reminded of the privilege it is to philosophize and ponder the functions of religion in the shaping and making of society.

I have a newfound, barely there insight, both on my privilege and my need to be wiser, derived from the use of (hold your breath) a yardstick.  In what is either a desperate gambit for meaning or the fulfillment of a dream long deferred, I returned to school to take some art classes this fall.  I have my own homework, assignments, a syllabus, and, gasp, grades to worry about for the first time since 2003.  As I drove in the dark and rain for almost an hour this morning at 6:00 am, to a parking lot that sits a solid half hour away from the bus I need to take, which deposits me a fifteen minute walk from the building where I study, in order to make a 7:45 am start time, I wondered briefly what I was doing and why.  But, as soon as I took out my yardstick to measure and represent objects in perspective, I remembered why I undertook such an errand. Continue reading “Gaining Perspective by Natalie Weaver”

Public Art and Personal Transformation by Jessica Bowman


Public Art Sculptures

Borrego Springs, CA

Artist: Ricardo Breceda

Photo: Jessica Bowman


Public Art displays like the image above, a dragon that appears to be moving through the sand dunes of Borrego Springs, California offer tremendous insight into the time and era of the society when it was created, the surrounding community, the patron of the work and of course, the artist. In the case of this artwork and several other similar sculptures found in the barren but beautiful landscape within the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park the subject matter supports the wildness of the region and invites the viewer to consider the area before the impacts of modern civilization.  In this case, it isn’t difficult to imagine such an untamed time as there are miles and miles of sandstone, treeless mountains and desert brush with very few people anywhere to be found. Also in this case, the artwork is absolutely appropriate for the environment in which it is placed.

“If private art suggests an intimate exchange, public art gathers a congregation.  While I have observed that all art is to some degree public, pubic art merits its name in virtue of the fact that the creation of a public is its point of departure.  Public art presupposes the public sphere and produces a public in relation to that concept.  Unlike popular or mass art, it does not assume a preexistent generic audience to be entertained or instructed but sets out to forge a specific public by means of an aesthetic interaction.” (Hein, pg. 49)

Continue reading “Public Art and Personal Transformation by Jessica Bowman”

Painting the Mother of Exiles by Angela Yarber

angelaLast month, my column focused on the importance of intersectionality within the feminist movement by highlighting the revolutionary work of Sojourner Truth, an escaped slave, abolitionist, and women’s rights activist. I’d like to continue to press the importance of intersectionality, particularly given our current political state. Of late, I’ve received a little criticism that some of my recent Holy Women Icons are too political, particularly with reference to Mothers of Black Lives Matter, Dolores Huerta, and the Midwives of Standing Rock. As a woman artist, and particularly a queer woman artist, the personal is always political. Feminists taught us this decades ago. Since the lives, loves, and bodies of LGBTQs, women, refugees, immigrants, people of color, Muslims, Jews, those who are differently abled, and the poor continue to be legislated, violated, excluded, and oppressed, I’d contend that writing about, painting about, and working for liberation for all of these intersectional identities is paramount, especially for those who profess faith in a homeless refugee liberator from the Middle East (that would be Jesus, of course). Needless to say, I believe these recent works in the Holy Women Icons Project fit in quite nicely with the over seventy revolutionaries—political and otherwise—that I’ve painted and written about in the past.

These critiques combined with the current climate of the United States, new legislation passed, proposed, and promised that attacks the lives of the aforementioned marginalized groups. So, I took to canvas and, for the first time, I did not pen the poetry scrawled across the holy woman’s heart. Instead, I relied on the words of Jewish American poet, Emma Lazarus (1849-1877). Most famous for the portion of her sonnet, “The New Colossus,” that graces the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, I wanted Lady Liberty and Lazarus’ timely words to become my newest Holy Woman Icon. In its entirety, “The New Colossus” reads: Continue reading “Painting the Mother of Exiles by Angela Yarber”

Calling on the Muse: A Meditation for Creative Spirits by Mary Sharratt

mary sharrattThe world at large might view artists and writers as free spirits rocking la vie bohème, but creative people know that it’s much more complicated than that, especially if we’re striving to earn even a modest living from our work. As a writer, I often fall into the trap of measuring my success or failure on factors completely beyond my control, such as the ups and downs of a fickle book buying market.

I know that I’ve often wrestled with the feeling that I’ll never be enough. Never be big enough, never be a bestseller. Sometimes it’s hard not to succumb to a flailing sense of helplessness—why are any of us doing all this? Worst of all is my fear of creative dryness—that my inspiration will turn to dust and I’ll never write—let alone publish—another book.


Continue reading “Calling on the Muse: A Meditation for Creative Spirits by Mary Sharratt”

Hamilton Part 3 – Conclusion: “Satisfied” By Anjeanette LeBoeuf

AnjeanetteThe conclusion of my 3-part post on how the Hamilton musical has changed the narratives and bringing diversity to Broadway. This last piece of the puzzle is how Hamilton has impacted me. I have always had a love of history, yet growing up I struggled with the narratives I was given. I couldn’t find myself within the pages; the people building, defending, and sustaining our nation were far from me. Continue reading “Hamilton Part 3 – Conclusion: “Satisfied” By Anjeanette LeBoeuf”

Storied Women by Natalie Weaver

Natalie Weaver editedOne of my goals for the summer is to paint more.  I find I can often say or think by a picture something that I am trying to work through in a formal, discursive way.  Art functions as a methodological tool for my theology insofar as it helps me to articulate in one language something that I am trying to say in another.  As my teaching career has lengthened, I’ve become more confident using images I have created to communicate my ideas.  This no doubt has something to do with the liberty one gains in teaching as a performance exercise, combined with avoidance of repetition, and the desire to engage as well as to be entertained in one’s own right.  Even more than just working out an idea, sometimes I also find making images to be a therapeutic tool.  I can laugh, mourn, gripe, or celebrate through an image, and sometimes, I can even protest by one.

One area in which I feel inclined to protest is in those figures I describe as “storied women.”  To me, this term refers to those outstanding figures in history or myth whose lives are rendered into legend, usually for a didactic or moral purpose.  While occasionally such rendering is heroic, as in the cases of Esther or Joan of Arc, the story-ing is usually typological and flat.  The woman(en) is used as a secondary element in a story, often for the purposes of advancing a primary narrative about men.  Tamar, for example, is treated as a figure in and around whose body the action, succession, and political positioning of David’s sons are enacted.  Bathsheba is also an exemplar of the storied women in the poet-king’s court, standing as one of the definitional temptresses of biblical history. Continue reading “Storied Women by Natalie Weaver”

More Than Just an Image by Jassy Watson

jassyI spent 2015 teaching an Intentional Creativity program ‘Wisdom of the Goddess” to an intimate tribe of women creatives from our local community. In December we held an end of Year Art Gala displaying a portion of the work which saw over 100 paintings of Goddesses created over a 10-moon period.

The program was divided into the cycles of Creation, Transformation and Celebration, as inspired by Hallie Inglehard’s book “The Heart of the Goddess”. Each month, through ritual, visioning and painting, we explored a Goddess that represented these cycles; Eve, Anjea, Demeter, Cerridwen, Kali, Persephone, Aphrodite, Ochun and finally, our Inner Goddess.

It took great courage for the artists to display their paintings in public. It is often hard to explain this work because it requires such deep and thoughtful exploration of one’s inner world along with a commitment to a creative practice that favours personal growth and discovery over outcome. It can be difficult finding the language to elucidate on this process that is not just about the act of painting.

It is painting to grow and heal.

It is sacred.

It honours and empowers women.

It inspires authentic creative expression.

It unites one with self.

It connects one back to the earth.

It transforms.

It reveals.

The show was a great success. A gallery full of Goddesses was surely a sight to behold! It was a humbling experience to be out and proud about our creative work in our regional, agricultural, largely conservative community. I feel it is imperative for the restoration of female empowerment to be remembering and re-imagining the Goddess by way of image and it was through Her that these astounding women artists found the courage to put their heart and soul on the wall for all to see.

The influence that image has is far-reaching and cannot be under-estimated. Image is a universal language that evokes emotion and can go as far as mobilising the masses and even change the course of history. The famous photo of ‘Phan Thi Kim Phuc’ running naked down a road after a napalm attack during the Vietnam War is but one outstanding example.

As I reflected on the years work however, I was reminded that while these paintings carry with them incredible insights and powerful messages of change, growth, discovery and transformation, the Goddess is so much more than just an image; and certainly more than just an image to mass-produce and sell. While “the strength and independence of female power can be intuited by contemplating ancient and modern images of the Goddess” (Carol P. Christ in ‘Why Women Need the Goddess’), it cannot be forgotten that She is the sacred made immanent in the natural world, expressed in the diversity of all forms of life and death. We seek Her, sometimes even travelling to the ends of the earth to find Her, forgetting that She is everywhere. She is you and me and Her sacred sites are found in our own backyards.

With this in mind I recently returned to some creative investigations I had begun a few years ago exploring woman in nature and the Goddess as the body of the earth through paint. The earth speaks and I am listening to Her stories and bringing them to the canvas to re-affirm my sense of wonder and respect for nature. My aim is to awaken an ancient memory of the sacred relationship between human and nature, for now, more than ever, it is critical that this relationship be restored. In doing so, the earth may once again be seen and valued as a living, breathing body that sustains and nourishes all life rather than being merely a commodity to be devastated and destroyed in the name of capitalism and greed. Further, these images are reminders of the interconnectedness of all life; we are not separate from the earth, but part of its’ intricate web.

The following image was inspired in part by Terry Tempest Williams ‘When Women Were Birds’ but is also an image born from a revelation I had many, many years ago when I first starting seeing woman in nature, especially in the body of trees.

When women were birds FINAL


“We are the birds eggs. Birds eggs, flowers, butterflies, rabbits, cows, sheep; we are caterpillars; we are leaves of ivy and sprigs of wallflower. We are women. We rise from the wave. We are gazelle and doe, elephant and whale, lilies and roses and peach, we are air, we are flame, we are oyster and pearl, we are girls. We are woman and nature. And he says he cannot hear us speak.

 But we hear.”

 Susan Griffin, Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her

Jassy Watson, who lives on the sub-tropical coast of Queensland Australia, is a Mother of four, passionate organic gardener, Intuitive/Visionary Artist, Intentional Creativity Coach and a student of Ancient History and Religion at Macquarie University, Sydney. She is the Creatress of Goddesses Garden Studio & Gallery; a small school for the Sacred Creative Arts. Jassy teaches regular painting workshops in person, nationally, internationally, and online based around themes that explore myth, history, earth connection and the Goddess. Her latest SOULSCAPES (TM) exploring woman in nature will be on show at ‘Dreaming Into Being’, Percolator Gallery, Paddington, Brisbane April 5th-11th. You can see her work at

‘Imagine’ by Jassy Watson

jassyAt my first international retreat on Lesvos, Greece, women gathered with me from around the globe in the village of Molyvos to connect with their authentic creative spirit and bring their Mediterranean Muse to life on canvas. With permission from our wonderful Greek hosts, we built a Cretan style labyrinth in their olive grove, which we walked and danced daily as a metaphor for our journey within accessing our authentic creative voice. We painted, laughed, danced, swam, feasted, cooked, explored, sang, and dreamed. It was such a truly wonderful time.

I wanted to bring this program to Greece in part because of Carol Christ, who has called Lesvos home for over twenty years. In 2012, I participated in her ‘Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete’. To date, it’s one of the most transformational, life-affirming experiences of my life. I harvested so much creative inspiration and motivation from Greek village life, connecting to Goddess in this ancient landscape. I knew it was the perfect setting to gather women for an inspired creative retreat of my own. Carol took the time to come speak with our group, telling us about how she came to call Lesvos home. She spoke beautifully on Sappho, reading us some of her poetry. It was an honour to have her join us.

The simple, resourceful, sustainable way of traditional Greek village life and the generous nature of the Greek people is a humbling experience. On Lesvos, many people in the villages grow much of their own food, eating seasonally. In fact, food grows wild everywhere; wild thyme, oregano, dill, fennel, walnuts, figs, greens and much more. There are few large chain supermarkets. Trucks laden with fresh produce and fish make their way around the villages announcing their wares through a loudspeaker and the crowd gathers to shop.

There are over eleven million olive trees on Lesvos. Even the smallest plots of land often have them. Some villages own their own olive oil co-op. Cheese is usually homemade. Many people keep sheep and goats and the process has remained virtually unchanged since ancient times. Beehives are commonplace for honey and pollination, as too are grapes. Homemade wine is routine in many a household. Usually more than one job is held to make ends meet, many often supplementing their income through small-scale agriculture. One might be a café owner, a sheep farmer, olive grower and a fisherperson. Many traditional trades such as stone masonry and shoemaking are also still well and truly alive.

Life is not necessarily easy, but it is so much more sustainable, resourceful, and rich in tradition; offering a deeper connection to the land, food sources, community and family than we have in the modern Western world. We live in a disposable society based on convenience. It never ceases to amaze me to think that only a few decades ago, most households in Australia had a veggie plot, chickens, a rainwater tank and access to small family-owned corner shops for other necessities. Now that’s a rarity. It’s imperative for the sustainability of the planet to return to a grass-roots, village-based way of life. Greek village life inspires me and reminds me to hold tightly to these values.

Continue reading “‘Imagine’ by Jassy Watson”

Canola, Celtic Goddess of Inspiration and Creativity by Judith Shaw

judith Shaw photoCanola, Celtic Goddess of Inspiration and Creativity, is another ancient Celtic Goddess whose story comes down to us in very limited form.

One day Canola had an argument with Her lover.  Goddesses, being intermediaries between our physical world and the infinite Source of All, feel emotions in a similar fashion to mortal humans.  So, like any mortal woman, Canola was upset by their argument.

Continue reading “Canola, Celtic Goddess of Inspiration and Creativity by Judith Shaw”

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