I have several paintings hanging in this beautiful gallery in downtown Rockland.
The Sacred Garden exhibit
Inspired by the stained glass windows and Icons in the churches, cathedrals and museums I visited in Europe.
I took many photographs of Icons from my visit to Europe and brought them back with me to Maine. I kept returning to them over and over again. In early February (two years ago) I began to paint from this inspiration as the late winter light lengthened and I haven’t ceased.
What emerged was Mary as the Sacred Garden, the Tree, the Field. I was drawn to her affirmation, a great cosmic yes to the world, and yet knowing — the sorrow and vulnerability in that yes.
When you look at the early icons of Mary, her expression carries a sorrowful-joy. When I was reading CS Lewis's autobiography, a few years ago I was struck by his description of what felt like this kind of JOY — distinguishing it from happiness or pleasure.
Lewis writes: “It is that of a unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it JOY. It might almost equally well be called a particular kind of grief. But then it is the kind we want. I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then JOY is never in our power and pleasure often is.”
In The Annunciation many of the traditional Icons show the angel Gabriel caught in mid air running to give Mary the news with a great gesture of movement and flow. “Rejoice, blessed are you among women.” Mary’s response: one hand up towards God, one hand down receiving. “Let it be done unto me according to thy word.”
I grew up outside any religious tradition so I am just peeking in to the wisdom seeded here but as I write these words I sense more and more that to become fully human is to be called, to respond, to create, each of us gifted as “human works of art.”
Kristi Williamson and Alyssa Anderson singing at the Sacred Garden painting exhibition
Windows Into Eternity
Talk by Kathryn Oliver at the Camden Public Library on Tuesday, Feb 11 at 6:30pm.
Enter into the symbolic world of Iconography (Also known as “windows into eternity”) in the mystical tradition of the East. This talk will focus on the spiritual power of Mary, told through the personal perspective of Kathryn’s artistic journey inspired by this ancient tradition.