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January Guest Column: My Current Inspiration by Michele Browne

I often find myself literally moved into my art. I read, see or feel something emotionally, and then off I go happily painting or creating an expression of my feelings in my not-fine-art manner.

I have recently embraced Judy Chicago's art with Carol Christ's words, and I am finding my expression in goddess art and mother power. Let me elucidate.

In September, I went to the de Young to see the exhibit "Judy Chicago: A Retrospective" (closing January 9, 2022, so it's not too late). I honestly did not know too much about Judy Chicago, but her art made me see more now. Her art asks: what is feminist art? I was especially moved by her "The Birth Project." Chicago, who is not a mother, famously stated, "If men had babies, there would be thousands of images of the crowning." Chicago has brilliant paintings of mother earth. Titles include Earth Birth, Study of Creation, The Creation, Thou Art the Mother Womb.

I found Chicago so inspiring that these days I am all about the mother, the concept of birthing, and the Goddess. While exploring who God is (Goddess), my language is nearly all about the male god figure. This subsequent language has profoundly affected our society. Go ahead and lookup. "Is God male or female?" No surprise that the written answer is non-committal, but then the following pronoun used is "he".....

I know of no images in the churches or synagogues that celebrate the birthing powers of women. According to most religions, a male God brought the world into being, and the woman was created from man. This is a reversal of biological fecundity. Most of us don't even notice the mother's absence in creation stories. In our society that worships a male god, the father's life is more valuable than the mother's. Is a man's life more vital than the mother's intimate connections with the origins of life? And is the father God?

Maybe you have heard of Carol P Christ, who died in July 2021? Christ was a theologian, feminist, and foremother of the Goddess movement. In 1978 Christ wrote, "Why Women Need the Goddess." Christ wrote, "Religions centered on the worship of a male God create "moods" and "motivations" that keep women in a state of psychological dependence on men and male authority, while at the same time legitimating the political and social authority of fathers and sons in the institutions of society. Religious symbol systems focus exclusively on male images of divinity create the impression that female power can never be fully legitimate or wholly beneficial. A woman completely ignorant of the myths of female evil in biblical religion nonetheless acknowledges the anomaly of female power when she prays exclusively to a male God...she can never have the experience that is freely available to every man and boy in her culture, of having her full sexual identity affirmed as being in the image and likeness of God...Such a powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting "mood" cannot fail to become a "motivation" that translates into social and political reality.

Man enjoys the great advantage of having a god endorse the code he writes. Since man exercises a sovereign authority over women, it is incredibly fortunate that this authority has been vested in him by the Supreme Being."

I am now painting and making collages of God as She Reveals Herself, God as She Who Is, God as a Sheela-Na-Gig, and the Treasury Womb. I am enjoying myself thoroughly and hope that anyone who sees my art will think outside their comfort zone, open their mind, and create.

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