Our Loving Mother
Keywords: Black Madonna, icon painting, Madonna, Mary, sacred art
I noticed that my Roman Catholic Church, St. Francis of Assisi in Litchfield, New Hampshire, did not have a central statue of Mary to which to pray. I thought it was because it was a recently rebuilt church, and they had not yet had an opportunity to obtain or commission one. As a community service project, I painted a Black Madonna and donated it to the church.
In this image, I portray Mary as the ancient Goddess Herself. I used a medium skin tone with the intention that women of many skin colors could identify with Mary as both spiritual and biological mother. I also wanted to portray Mary's ancient history as the African Sacred Mother who cradles all people in Her loving arms. Soon after completing the icon, I found myself holding my child in the same position, cheek to cheek: we embodied the image as mother and daughter.
When I began reading Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak I realized that since 1963, the Vatican II council had replaced many statues of Mary with statues of the holy family. My painting is now in St. Francis Church, with prayer intentions in front of it. Without realizing it, this was an act of restitution. I had put Her back!