Mysterious Madonna

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Written January 28, 2013

Maya Angelou’s poem, Phenomenal Woman, has always been powerful for me. I first heard it at a retreat 20 years ago when a friend read it aloud. I went to the bookstore immediately upon my return home. I wanted my own copy so I could study it and feel the words over and over. Those words have sustained me through the years particularly during times of intense self-discovery. I find that the authentic self is often tough to fully articulate and it was even more difficult for me during those early shifts. When I couldn’t find my own words for my newfound feelings of empowerment, I gratefully allowed those of Phenomenal Woman to speak for me.


Modern Madonna

This collage emerged from the Modern Madonna oil painting of the same name.  It was created on a 17 x 13″ upcycled cupboard door with beading, Tyvek papercutting, a Solar Plate print of the original oil painting, acrylic paint, and found objects.

The New Eve of Guadalupe

This collage is created in conjunction with the oil painting of the same name. This piece is on a 12×24″ upcycled cupboard door with beading, acrylic paint, an acid-free print of a face of Eve from the original oil painting, papercutting, and cut glass.

Ilene’s piece


I created this collage for my dear friend and mentor, Ilene, as a thank you for her encouragement and love, as well as to honor a very magical, sacred experience that had occurred when visiting Rome, Italy with my family the summer of 2010. 

The central image in the piece is the Madonna del Carmine. Each July she is processed through the streets in a neighborhood of Rome called Trastavere. This is an older, less chic part of Rome on the southwest side across the Tiber River. It’s a real Bohemian area, a place where the slaves and servants used to live in much earlier days, and thus, it has a powerful earthiness to it. We had wandered through Trastevere when first in Rome and really loved the feel of it, so toward the end of our Italy adventure when we came back to Rome a few days before flying home, we decided to return to the area.

After dinner as we were walking back to our apartment, we noticed that there was a lot of activity and commotion down a narrow street and so decided to wander that way to check it out. It was crazy. There were bands playing all over within feet of each other and people of all ages listening, drinking, and dancing.

Right in the midst of all of this commotion was a nondescript building with a carnival-like sign over its doors. It was one of those signs that is made from big old-fashioned lightbulbs. It just didn’t go together, this gaudy lighted sign and this very plain building so of course, I was drawn up the stairs to see what it was all about. When I reached the top of the stairs, I realized that the building was a church. The doors were open, but it was dark inside. Unlike the complete electricity of the outside environment, the inside was lit only by candles. Also unlike the outside, it was very cool and quiet. A priest was at the door ushering people in with a silent, reserved nod. When I quietly inquired about my bare shoulders (a no-no in Italian churches) he assured me without words that it was still OK to enter. And so we did…my son, Drew, my daughter, Alex, and me.  

About halfway up the side aisle of the small church, I saw her. She was placed in front of the altar, dressed in the white robes you see in the picture on this art piece, with one spotlight on her. She was breathtakingly beautiful…virtually glowing with her white and gold attire amidst the candlelight in the darkness. I literally gasped when I saw her. And it hit me in an instant what this was…that she was the Madonna del Carmine that had been processed through the streets of Trastevere. I had read about this prior to leaving home, was disappointed I would not be there to witness the parade, and thought I’d try to figure out where she was on display when we returned to Rome. But with all of the excitement of our trip, I had completely forgotten about that plan until that moment of seeing her inside this small church. What a gift to have stumbled upon her when not even looking! A metaphor, yes? Needless to say, I immediately started to weep.

Babushka Madonna

Babushka Madonna collage was inspired by the oil painting of the same name. The base is a 10×18″ upcycled cigar box with adornments of copper wire, Tyvek paper cuttings, silk, stones, plexiglass, and found objects.

Ana’s Birthday

I created this collage as a commission to celebrate the birthday of a friend of a friend. It is fashioned on a 17.5 x 12″ upcycled cupboard door with paper, beading, found objects, and prints.

Babushka Madonna

Babushka Madonna’s image developed during a time in my life when I was hunting for sacred feminine images that were more real and accessible than the typical Madonna image that is frozen in time as the demure, blue-cloaked young woman with downward-focused eyes. Only a fraction of women (maybe none) can truly live up to and relate to the image of the typical Madonna figure. I wanted more images of the Sacred Feminine that I could relate to. In particular, I was looking for sacred images that spoke to me at my… Read More

Modern Madonna

This piece is part of a series of Madonna images I created with the perspective that the beauty of the Sacred Feminine does not need to be in one type of image, i.e. the typical demure Madonna with downward-cast eyes. I loved the idea of this Madonna looking right at the camera. I loved her tattoos and piercings and spiked hair…all of those things that I had heard people around me comment on in teens and young women as bad or disgraceful. Part of me agreed, but only the very smallest part… Read More

The New Eve of Guadalupe

This red-headed goddess is currently The New Eve of Guadalupe, but she started life in June 2007 as Madonna Finds Her Voice. At that time, I was opening to the idea that the demure, blue-cloaked Mary needed perhaps to speak up a bit and tell us her story. So I envisioned a Madonna image looking straight at the camera with her throat bursting open with color. And then I painted her. She was indeed looking straight at the camera, but she was much more vibrant than I initially planned. All parts of… Read More