Looking through my collection of placards from previous shows, I came upon Torn Black Madonna, charcoal on newsprint from November 2001. I completed this piece after reading Longing for Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna, by China Galland who had completed a ten year journey searching for hope. A timely read after 9-11.
Studying the face of Our Lady of Czestochowa, "The Black Madonna," I picked up my charcoals and drew atop the headlining article: "Bush Warns War may be Long." The two gashes in the Madonna's cheek record a story from medieval times of a robber striking the icon with a sword, only to fall to the ground, writhing in agony until his death. Our Lady comes with a warning!
Torn Black Madonna
Her eyes swell with darkness.
Her lids shade the reflection
of what she sees.
Torn, between protecting us from the terror,
and foreshadowing our future
She is our Mother,
An Excerpt from The Daimon:
Mother ventured from her caravan because she had heard there was a royal carriage not far down the road. She had always wanted to sight the Empress, to see her garments. She would imagine what it was like to touch the furs, the silks and the golden threads outlining flowers in the brocades.
Mother had hoped to brush against the forbidden. She knew how to sew and she yearned for rich fabrics to fold and cut and create beautiful gowns. She dreamed of being a seamstress for the young tsarina.
Generations later, Momma sewed clothes for her family, Mother’s great grandchildren. She taught Regina, the eldest girl to sew, and Regina taught her sisters. Little Elisabeth loved going to the fabric store. Walking the aisles looking at the cotton paisleys, the plaids, the stripes, the polka dots, the smooth satins, the soft velvets--on and on she would go--running her fingers across the edges of the bolts of cloth. Little Elisabeth looked forward to the day that she could pick out her own fabric. Momma was very resourceful and used sewing scraps from her dresses, and those of Regina and Edith, to make a smaller version for Little Elisabeth.
When Momma’s chores were finished which seemed to be endless on the farm, she would steal time to use a scrap of velvet, from a worn out Christmas dress, to paint the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an icon that bled droplets of salvation for Momma.
In her hopeful search for royalty, Mother had come upon the peasants who had gathered at a distance, on bended knee, paying homage to the icon of the Madonna and Child. The prelate kept the horses and carriage still, parked next to the tall birch trees, separating the meadow from the Volga River. Other villagers in their finest were gathered in close, peering at the icon that had been unveiled by the priests.
At first sight, Mother was taken by the women’s shawls, their fine dresses and jackets. Then her gaze fell upon the embroidered altar cloth that kept hands from touching the embossed silver. It framed the face of the Madonna and the Christ Child. Candles flickered. Devotees made the sign of the cross. Mother became spell bound by the splendor.
Dusk fell. The carriage moved on. The crowd fell into a procession back to their village homes with their heads bowed in reverence. Mother was left alone. Well almost alone. A shadow lurked within the darkness amongst the trees.