Feminine Mysticism in Art: Artists Envisioning the Divine
By Victoria Christian
The rise in the United States in recent years of feminist religious movements that focus on female images of the divine Goddess suggests that many women, in addition to men, find goddess symbolism to be appealing. Many feminist artists, too, claim to have found inspiration in goddesses and goddess symbolism as they provoke reminiscent feelings of a distant past-a vague, yet familiar reality lost to westerners. Feminist critiques of religion and some postmodernists have taken issue with traditional images of God, arguing that male hegemony in Western cultures can be correlated directly with the centrality of a single, all-powerful male god in the dominant strands of the predominately Jewish and Christian religious heritage of Europe and the United States. Many would argue further that given this situation, it is important for women as well as for men with feminist goals to recover or create empowering female symbols to help combat the ones that support patriarchy and the denial of the feminine principle.
(for the full article, artwork and multimedia experience, click here: OM-Times July 2010 Edition)
For the past five years I have been researching the work of contemporary women artists from all over the United States. My mission has been two-fold; to study the stages of their development of an identity as women artists, separate and distinct from that of a male artist, and to study the impact and development of feminine mysticism on their lives and on the world at large. Since the former concepts are too broad to be addressed here, and will be dealt with in two separate books, I will confine myself to a discussion of the latter category and will share with you some of the inspired and moving visualizations of the Divine Mother which these artists have graciously shared with me. I will also identify the unique and fundamental role female mystics and visionaries play in our society’s ability to shift into a “new paradigm”, which essentially is an integration between the masculine and feminine principle within each individual and society at large.
The feminist art movement in the 1970s paved the way for contemporary feminine mystics and visionary artists as they challenged the dominant patriarchal ideologies of Judeo-Christianity, particularly its overall subjugation of the feminine principle. Contemporary female mystics and Goddess artists both participate and expand on this tradition. However, working within a postmodern society undoubtedly poses new difficulties for contemporary women artists, especially for those who are committed to integrating spirituality into their work. Although there are indeed more opportunities for women artists, they continue to work within a rational and patriarchal society that not only devalues the feminine principle, but subjective modes of knowing.