“Beauty is powerful. It may be the most powerful thing on earth. It is dangerous. Because it matters.” ~ John and Stasi Eldredge, Captivating.
I am a woman.
I am a painter.
I am a painter of women.
Why? Being asked to participate in a show called, “Women Painting Women,” makes me pause and reflect on my purpose as an artist, specifically why I choose women as my primary subjects. A huge influence in my work comes from the book quoted above, written from the Christian perspective.
When I look at a woman, I see myself, my sister, my daughter, my mother, and then as through a dim looking-glass…………my first mother, Eve. I see a garden. I see the last crowning touch God created in the most beautiful, perfect place. Adam was not created in Eden, but outside, and then brought in.
She was Beauty literally personified.
Now we women, her legacy, who are here now, are a whisper of that garden. I don’t know about you, but around me I see no garden: I see pain, disease, death. I see hunger. Sometimes the hunger is more spiritual than physical. Beauty is food for the soul.
Eve means “life”. So, in addition to her nature as Beauty, she is also Life or Life-Giver, a reflection of her as an image of God. There is an old adage, “Where there is life, there is hope.” Women give and sustain life in more ways than just having children, though that comes to mind first. That is why we find it especially grievous to hear of a mother taking her child’s life. It goes against what we feel in our hearts to be the sacred trust of the Life-Giver: to hold it as ever precious. Many of my paintings show mothers with their children or babies. They may look weary, but I hope I show love binding them, making the drudgery of one more day possible.
So, beauty does matter, just like life matters. We need both and we hunger for both. I hope that when someone looks at my paintings of women, that for a moment at least, that hunger is satisfied. That longing and yearning for the perfect garden, however, can’t be quenched in this life. I hope that my paintings reflect a truth that if there is even a trace of Beauty and Life now, there will be completion and restoration in the future by the great Lover of our Souls.
(Artwork above is by me, Gwendolyn Rodriguez, “Lily’s Chair”, oil, 2013. Additional art can be seen at http://www.gwendolynrodriguez.com/)