Saturday, April 07, 2007

Spring by Meinrad Craighead

A blogging friend of mine, Laura, wrote a tribute post about her father, who recently passed away. It was a very sweet tribute but the specific reason I bring it up is because it centered around how one small act, her father giving her a teddy bear from Paris when she was a small child, was the catalyst for the direction her life took and who and where she is today.

This post is about a similar event in my life, albeit one with a much smaller impact. We all have these moments in our lives that when they happen we are usually unaware of their importance (I say usually because sometimes we have a sense of foreshadowing about them) but that years down the road, we look back and can remember them as the moment when a new direction was started, a new seed of an idea began to grow, or a decision was, even if still unconsciously, made.

I can't remember exactly when in time this moment happened. I think I was living in Sacramento at the time, so that would put it at just short of twenty years ago. A Book Sale, sort of like the Spirit stores that pop up only for Halloween or the Hickory Farms that open up in small towns in December, opened up for a few weeks in an empty department store near where I lived and I visited it several times, digging endlessly for bargain book finds. I was rummaging through a table full of non-fiction when I stumbled upon a slim enveloped item. I thought it was a calendar. It had tiny squares of different art images displayed on the back of the envelope that looked intriguing, although they were really too small to get anything but a hint of what they were.

I brought it home to discover it wasn't a calendar after all but a set of quality prints of paintings by an artist named Meinrad Craighead. What was pivotal about these images was that they incorporated many ideas and symbolisms that before that moment I had not believed to exist anywhere except in my own head.

Something recently made me think of her and the prints, which I know I still own but can't find unfortunately, they must be packed away in a box somewhere, and so I decided to Google to find out more about her. I didn't know anything about her as a person or as an artist before that except for what was written in a brief paragraph or two on the envelope I purchased. I didn't even remember her name but I assumed with the few bits and pieces of information I remembered, surely I could find her online.

TWO HOURS later, I finally succeeded. The main problem was I thought her last name was Meinham or Meinhemm or something like that and I thought she was a German artist (turns out she's from Arkansas). The only other information I could recall was that she used to be a nun and one of her paintings was titled The Corn Mother. Yeah. Not a lot to go on. Here's the interesting part though. Finally, in desperation I gave up combinations of "nun German Manheim woman artist painter Manfred etc" and simply typed in the words "God as mother" which was what the collection of prints I owned has always so clearly said to me. And there she was. Pages and pages of her.

Art of "God as mother" - that idea was the reason why the memory of stumbling upon her prints those many years ago became one of those pivotal moments in my life. Because it was the first time I remember finding someone else in the world who was not only thinking but expressing their spirituality "outside the box" of traditional images and beliefs. It was that those three things were in combination - spirituality, art, and personalized expression - that was exciting and new to me. I had felt, read, wondered about, experienced, heard about each of those ideas before, many times before. But never before had I realized that it was possible to put them all together.

I can't really express the sort of comfort and joy I found in that discovery. My experience of "the feminine divine" is not exactly the same as Craighead's experiences. But that isn't terribly important. No person's relationship to spirit is the same as anyone elses, anywhere, no matter what belief system they may share. What was important was that the discovery of her work opened me to new possibilities of thought and direction in my own life and on my own path.

I won't say anything else about her here as you can click on the links and read it more eloquently for yourself on various websites. Here's another article about her. Let me just say I am now even more intrigued with this unique and fascinating woman's life and I'll be spending more time reading about her in the future. I hope you take at peek as well.


Susan Tuttle said...

What a powerful experience! Thanks so much for sharing!

I appreciate you stopping by my blog--thanks for the kind comment!


see you there! said...

Great find! A new to me artist. BTW, I posted the about wines that I bought (for the label art!) after seeing them here. I linked to your blog as well.