On the use of text, notably the Bible

I have always used text in my work, since my first lithograph. In that print, I used a copy of a letter written to me by my mother (I still have that print somewhere and will find it and include it in this blog entry later…). I never use random text, only text that has meaning. I have to be able to have some sort of connection to the words themselves, even if the words are barely legible in the finished print, as often happens. Sometimes you can barely read the entire line; but that’s not always the point. The words have a feeling that I want to convey. I don’t want people to be standing there in the gallery READING my prints. I want people to share the feeling of the words.

So I grew up in a strong Baptist household: church every Sunday, Sunday school, church choir (though I can’t sing and they all knew it but you can’t really kick anyone out of the church choir, now can you?) and my mother’s famous line (at least famous to my brother and I) “you are going to hell if you don’t change your ways!” No my mother isn’t a crazy fanatic; she has a strong faith in God but she’s also practical and contemporary. She bought me my first leather mini skirt in middle school (I looked SO cool) and even confessed once that Madonna was her favorite singer. But the Bible is her rock. During the weekday she wakes at 5am (!) to hold telephone bible readings and prayer sessions with members of her church. I tried to tell her once that God is still asleep at 5am but she just shot me a dirty look.

My point is, I started using the Bible in my work to admit that I too read the Bible. I love the Beatitudes because it has taught me that it is ok to be meek (“… for they shall inherit the earth.”) And a number of passages which illustrate that women are strong even when they are doubted and looked over. Two women I have focused on are Mary, who stood up to the angel Gabriel by saying “How can this be…?” She didn’t just accept what was being told to her, she wanted an explaination. And the woman with the issue of blood, who had been given no cure for her hemoragging. She didn’t accept that and pushed against the crowd to seek another opinion by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment.

Now, one might wonder how can I (being liberal minded and, more notably, being a lesbian) have such an affinity for the Bible? Throughout history the Bible has been used to promote the persecution of people (blacks, women, homosexuals…) But I think it’s important for these people to take back the Bible and reclaim the words that have been used against them.


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