The second and third themes of the exhibit’s trilogy are Mary Star of the Sea and Our Lady of Thrift.
My exhibit is one that is inspired by the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. But why my attraction to her? I was a member of the United Church growing up, where Mary does not play a big part, and I am no longer a church-goer. I feel that I am a spiritual person, but I feel more connection with the concept of Mother Earth.
One of my Mary statues that I picked up at Home Depot and added a teacup saucer halo and rosaries that were a gift from a friend.
Here are some of my guesses about my interest in Mary:
- Mary is a powerful female figure in a religion that is male-dominated and that limits women’s roles and freedoms, yet she endures.
- Mary is a symbol of motherhood.
- Images of Mary express serenity, grace, strength and humanity.
- Mary has been represented in artworks more than any other woman in history.
- My second name is Marie – my maternal grandmother’s name.
- I grew up in a rural area in southern Alberta. Art was not offered in high school, but Sister Angela, a nun from St. Rita’s Roman Catholic Church in Rockyford, was also an artist, and felt that this lack was not acceptable. So she taught evening classes for Art 10, 20 and 30, and as an aspiring young artist who was not just taking the course for “easy credits”, we formed a bond of mutual gratitude.
- But really, I have no idea.
An illuminated lenticular Mary picture with another beautiful plaster Mary relief sculpture above her – both thrift store finds. The crocheted doilies and pot holders are a nod to my prairie women theme.
Another Mary – Mary Joyce – saw my collection of Marys in my studio last year and suggested Mary as a theme for the exhibit that she was curating at the SkirtsAfire Festival. I created Mary Star of the Sea for that exhibit, and included it again in my Regarding Mary exhibit.
Mary Star of the Sea: image transfer prints from my Newfoundland Mary photos, and a 3-dimensional mixed media piece with shells and broken china.
I still wanted to find a more intimate space to exhibit my Mary collection of icons. I thought that the mandate for the Bleeding Heart Art Space was one that made for a good fit for that exploration: We curate creativity, connections, and conversations around art, faith, hope and love.
Some of my Mary icons
Our Lady of Thrift forms a shrine or Lady Chapel of sorts in the gallery space. Mary appears to me in thrift stores. Since many of these stores are faith-based charities, it is not surprising to find her there. She inhabits the knick-knack shelves of thrift stores alongside chipped ceramic kittens and salt shakers divorced from their pepper partners. Perhaps as they sit beside her, these damaged and discarded denizens benefit from Mary’s sense of calm. I purchase some Marys for my collection and leave some for shelf-mate solace. As collections do, my Mary collection has also grown through gifts from friends and family.
The Mary reading corner
Part of the wall of Marys. The painting that is second from the left was painted by my mother, Doreen Wyman. She said that she painted it when she was living on the farm (near Rockyford, AB). The needlepoint on the right was made by Maria Muzyka of Vegreville, AB. She is a friend’s grandmother.
However, I am putting the word out that I am no longer collecting Marys. After I installed Our Lady of Thrift, I realised just how many I have. In fact, I am going to be divesting myself of all but a few select pieces, so if anyone would like a Mary or two, please let me know. My studio is becoming smaller all the time. Maybe that’s one of the messages that Mary was telling me. She doesn’t want to go back into a dark box. It’s time for sharing and spring cleaning and light.
Posted by Marlena Wyman