The Handless Maiden is a story of a woman’s journey into the underground forest of the feminine psyche
It is a rite of endurance and growth from a flat and fragmented existence to one of wholeness through the process of the archetypal narrative of finding one’s desire. It is also the story of the subjugation of the Divine Feminine and Her reemergence into society. The Divine Feminine is the female aspect of Spirit, the Creator. She is most often referred to as the Goddess, and is the counterpart to God. To paraphrase Gloria Steinem, the personal is political. Just as society becomes more accepting and indeed embraces and nurtures feminine power, a woman sets off on her own journey of self discovery. Both, indeed, are interconnected and interchangeable. Hence, as a woman works towards wholeness within herself, society also moves in that direction towards first acknowledging and understanding our dualistic nature and then marrying them to achieve oneness. The story of The Handless Maiden is powerful and especially potent at this tumultuous and ever changing climate of the turn of the new century. Now, more than ever, we are aware of the winds of change. Goddess consciousness is evident, not only in the success of women in the workplace, and the move towards equality within the family structure through the sharing of chores, and childcare. The Divine Feminine is also evident in the resurgence of Wicca, and the New Age movement. There is also a global change towards oneness.. The events of September 11, 2001, have brought together various religions and cultures to support the concept that we all come from one creator and share a communal spirit. To be sure, the political climate is all encompassing, as it documents and shapes our views. This is achieved through our ever pervasive media.
The media of our ancestors were the old stories, or fairy tales. I believe this story was written during the time of the Inquisition. I will attempt to prove that this story documents the descent underground of worshipping the Divine Feminine and its promise of reemergence when the time is ripe. I do this by weaving through the Holy Grail, through which, the Masculine and Feminine aspects of the Divine are united.
Indeed, fairy tales were often vehicles for covert messages that were forced underground. The fairy tales were communicated in the oral tradition long before the Grimm brothers documented them in written form. Hence, information could be passed down from one generation to another without the fear of persecution. The cryptic message within this story is powerful and controversial enough that it had to be hidden from the prevailing and destructive forces of the Inquisition.
Visually, I have attempted to create a child-like fairy tale look to the book. I felt, that in order to see as clearly as possible, the reader needed to approach this work with the openness of a child. In effect, I am asking the reader to leave his/her ego at the door, so to speak. Fairy tales have always been vehicles for teaching lessons. They were created for children to teach them morals and are reflections of the cultural scripts of the time that they are written. Children are innocent, and hence, have no preconceived concept of the world and its order. They see truth.
The paintings themselves have both the potency of iconic imagery and the innocence of children’s book illustrations. They are painted in a High Gothic style to reflect the time period. I have taken the style of a miniature illuminated manuscript and enlarged it to 72″ x 72″. All the figures are centered on the canvas. I have painted them this way because they created a mirrored image. I wanted the reader to see him or herself within the journey in order to increase the level of understanding. Also, the imagery is influenced by early Christian iconography, with its central figure, flatness, bold colour and use of Gold, Silver, or Bronze Leaf, in order to emphasize the mirroring of the Divine within all of us.
This project celebrates the duality that makes us human, keeps us balanced, vital, vibrant, and whose union will eventually make us whole.
There are four large and four smaller paintings. The four large paintings coincide with the pivotal moments in the series: the dismemberment, finding love in the garden, the birth, and the sacred marriage. The smaller paintings represent moments that facilitate these experiences.