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HOW CATHOLICISM MADE ME THE ARTIST I AM TODAY PT.2 Spiritual Manifestations in the Feminine.

Updated: Jan 7

When I visited the Galleria Borghese, in Rome, I was surprised to find an oil painting by Caravaggio of the Virgen Mary, called, "The Madonna of the Grooms", which depicts the Virgen Mary and her child, Jesus, stepping on a serpent's head, while her mother, St Anne, looks on. It's a rare painting and a little disturbing, for what mother would allow her child to step on a snake barefoot? None the less, I found it compelling.

This painting made me realized that the darkness was not just a style, but a clever way to symbolize consciousness. The shadowy colors illuminate the protagonists, highlighting their message for a religious audience over 400 years ago. The Madonna of the Grooms, reconnected me to my early teachings of "original sin", for that is what the serpent signifies in this painting, and Catholics believe they are born with it.

My childhood bible was filled with realistic paintings, like Caravaggio painting, that channeled the great European Masters. My bible taught me how to read a painting and understand its meaning. This has given me an advantage to create a contemporary mythology with new archetypes that represent the modern woman. The results of reading this bible and the reflective questions asked in my catechism classes, were my early intellectual conversations about art and spirituality.

When I began the masked series of women back in 2007, I wanted to create a new mythology that told a story about a woman archetype that was protesting shame.

And so I experimented with a reincarnation of Eve. The painting below, is called, "The Seeker". It is a modern archetype of Eve as an older woman in her 40's who exists in her own consciousness amongst serpents. I changed the Catholic serpent's meaning of "temptation", to the indigenous, Pre-Hispanic meaning, "transformation".

This is a portrait of a masked woman in camouflage with binoculars and serpents in a jungle
The Seeker 28"x40" Oil over Wood by Isis Rodriguez

The setting is in a jungle at night and not in daylight paradise accompanied by a male escort. In other words, I believe that Eve was a seeker, curious about life and wanted the knowledge.

The conceptual nature for this series of masked women paintings have become a quest for seeking a new way of being. And seeing so many of my friends that are single, many divorced, never been married, or never birthed children, basically, women without responsibilities, I feel a need to present a new narrative. "The Seeker" is 28"x40" and is available for sale. Contact me directly if you are interested.

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