Here is a challenging and beautiful image of Our Lady of Walsingham. (Feast day 24th September). We’re delighted to have the artist’s permission to reproduce it, and even more pleased that the artist tells us about her work.
The artist is Abby Johnson, a US artist and Lutheran seminarian who says, of herself I have loved art all my life and will continue this love affair. I haven’t always been good and I’m not always good. I haven’t always made time for it and I will drop that ball more times ahead, too. But when I do settle into the paints or the pastels, the charcoal or the clay, when the Living Sprit of Creativity pays a visit and loans me some light, I get introduced to a new bit of myself and communal emotion. I always manage to smudge paint on my face and never work with shoes on.
Fr Ian invited Abby to say some words about her painting. Abby comments:
“Our Lady of Walsingham ” was a commission piece; a friend and fellow seminarian requested it as a gift to his partner, who was recently ordained in the Episcopal Church. And while I painted it for someone else, I found myself in it even still. The hydrangeas and sunflowers that surround the Holy Mother and Child surround my own home. The face of Mary is modelled on my dear friend Precious, a close friend while I lived in South Africa. It is so important, especially in America during this tense and unjust time, to remember the face of Mary was indeed that of a woman of colour. I also chose to embolden the arch on the chair, symbolic of God’s covenant in Genesis 9:12-13. Instead of the traditional golden line, the arch is a fully expressive, proud rainbow in celebration of God’s promise of love, highlighting specifically its inclusion of the LGBTQ community. This piece makes me take a breath – makes me consider the lilies and feel the sun on my face as I turn it up to God; sensing that space between elevated royalty and beautiful ordinary that the Spirit so often lives within.
Once again, many thanks to Abby for graciously sharing this with us. You can read more about Abby, and see more of her work, on her website.