Allison Peirsoun
Allyson Peirsoun, Acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 48” x 48” Encaustic, hair, ashes, plants, bones, paper on canvas, 22” x 48”, 2004    Details
Helen Moorheid2
Helen Moorheid, Acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 48” x 48” Encaustic, hair, ashes, plants, bones, paper on canvas, 22” x 48”, 2004  Details
Elizabeth Hicks2
Elizabeth Hicks, Acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 48” x 48” Encaustic, hair, ashes, plants, bones, paper on canvas, 22” x 48”, 2004  Details
Jennon Petit2
Jennon Petit, Acrylic and gold leaf on canvas, 48” x 48” Encaustic, hair, ashes, plants, bones, paper on canvas, 22” x 48”, 2004  Details

This premise of this show is to create a monument to the Burning Times, which is the period of time during the Inquisition between 1100 and 1700, when innocent women were robbed, tortured and burned at the stake because of their religious beliefs. Although there are memorials for the Holocaust, Vietnam War, World Wars 1 and 2, there is nothing to commemorate the brutal mass murder of women and children which, by some estimations, were between 100,000 to 300,000. Not only was this horrible blight in history not commemorated, but this time period has left us with a legacy of lies. These women were forced under extreme pain of torture to “confess” to crimes such as copulation with the devil. The craft (Wicca) was deemed evil by the Church and anyone practicing it was considered satanic. Stories of witches flying on brooms, sacrificing children, worshipping the devil were all myths created in order to destroy the rich heritage of Paganism, but also to acquire wealth for the Church and State and strip women of their positions of healers and midwives.

The classic evocation of this deranged misogyny is the Malleus maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches), published by Catholic inquisition authorities in 1485-86. “All wickedness,” write the authors, “is but little to the wickedness of a woman. … What else is woman but a foe to friendship, an unescapable punishment, a necessary evil, a natural temptation, a desirable calamity, domestic danger, a delectable detriment, an evil nature, painted with fair colours. … Women are by nature instruments of Satan — they are by nature carnal, a structural defect rooted in the original creation.”

Unfortunately, we still live with these stereotypes.

Each painting is a portrait of an actual individual who existed and perished, giving a face and personality to the victims and thus, returning the dignity and humanity that was taken from them. The painting is divided into two in order to express both the truth and the lie, portraying a jarring contrast between the two. The larger image is that of the individual engaged in her life, which represents the truth. The first image is alive and vital; the second is raw and morbid.

Each painting is accompanied by a necklace, which serves as a reliquary to house personal icons from the women’s lives, lace, healing plants (for a medicine woman) as well as what is left of their physical bodies, teeth, hair, and ash. Each necklace is created using traditional materials (sterling silver, pearls, enamel, stones) as well as the alternative ones, and is formed using traditional metalsmithing techniques. The necklaces serve as a remembrance of who these women were in life, as well as a haunting reminder of how and why they died.

There is also be a short biography of each woman to give her life context. Reflecting these memories, these four souls will also be given a voice. Using vignettes, each victim opens a window on a moment, so that you may experience their vibrant and harmonious way of life, their truth. Darkly contrasting these moments of truth, you will also share in their living nightmare.

This monument provides a place where women, and men may know the truth and can pay homage and give honour to those who have perished.

 

 

 

 

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