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Painting Mary Magdalene

I started painting Mary Magdalene in 2005, after reading Margaret Starbird's book, The Woman with the Alabaster Jar. The book inspired me with its references to art and other images, such as the Black Virgin and the Tarot.

At the time I was not knowledgeable of any of these themes. I had only read The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, which made me wonder where the author had gotten his information. The book was fun to read, but it was the research about Mary Magdalene that intrigued me.

When I next visited a bookstore, right next to The Da Vinci Code was Margaret Starbird's book. I bought it and read it hungrily for knowledge of Mary Magdalene, and while the words informed me, something else also started to grow in me.

I wanted to learn everything about Mary Magdalene. And I wanted to paint her. I soon began to work on my first painting of Mary Magdalene. It refers to Margaret Starbird's mention of Sara, the statue of the little girl saint that the Gypsies of France carry in procession every year in the South of France, in the town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

Starbird connects this saint to the idea that Mary Magdalene carried Jesus' child in her womb when she escaped from Palestine to Egypt, later arriving in the South of France, where some people believe she spent the rest of her life, preached the teachings of Jesus, and had their child. Sara, Margaret Starbird concludes, might be that child.

Before starting to paint Mary Magdalene, I had been painting images of mothers so the image of Mary Magdalene with a child was a natural starting point for this work. At the time, I didn't know I would commit to painting Mary Magdalene at least once a year, for the rest of my life.

I paint Mary Magdalene, as a promise to the saint, and as an act of gratitude for her many blessings and the many gifts I have received from her ever since I began painting and studying her. I do not paint this work to proselytize or promote a particular faith. I paint Mary Magdalene because she inspires me and moves me to learn about the many aspects and permutations that people imagine for her. Whatever we are, or aspire to be, there is probably a story of Mary Magdalene that appeals to our souls.

In my paintings I explore these insights as well as my own, and share them without judgment. In fact, this is the aspect of Mary Magdalene that fascinates me the most: she can mean different things to different people, and in that way, she guides us to opening our hearts to Divine Wisdom.

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Tanya Torres  
Art for Love, Peace and Joy

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