Saturday, September 3, 2011

Outsider/Folk Art: Patroness of Fallen Women


About fifteen years ago, there was a local woman who sold religious folk art/outsider art items at her booth at the Saturday Market. Saturday Market is a long running street fair in Eugene (since 1970),  full of booths of hand made items, as well as food booths and lots of music.

I bought several things from her at the time and did a paper on her when I was studying folklore at the University of Oregon.

This is a beaded necklace, with a wood pendant. On the front is an image of St. Maria Magdalene. On the back is a little label: "St. Maria Magdalene Patroness of Fallen Women." This is what Books of the Times site has to say about St. Maria Magdalene:
There is a breathtaking moment in the Gospel of Philip, one of the Gnostic gospels, which were denounced by the church as heresy. The apostles witness Jesus kissing Mary Magdalene on the mouth. The apostles are horrified, jealous. ''Why do you love her more than us?'' they ask. Jesus' response is mysterious and enigmatic. ''Why do I not love you like her?'' he says.
What is the meaning of those kisses? Sexual passion? A profound friendship? Jesus anointing Mary Magdalene as his successor and as leader of the church?
Traditionally, Mary Magdalene has been seen as a reformed harlot, portrayed in paintings as red haired and bare breasted. But as Karen L. King, the Winn professor of ecclesiastical history at Harvard University, in the Divinity School, points out in her new book, ''The Gospel of Mary of Magdala: Jesus and the First Woman Apostle,'' nowhere does the Bible say that she was a prostitute.


I know I have that paper, with photos, around here somewhere. I also have other items that I hope to take snaps of and post. I think the woman -- a very colorful person! -- called herself "Sister Spirit" and I want to say "bear" was in there somewhere, but it's been many years and I don't remember.

She sold jewelry with decorated images of the saints and the BVM as well as Jesus. She was known for her Jesus nightlights: religious plastic nightlights of Jesus and Mary, (the kind you can buy at dime stores; I've even seen them at Dollar Store type places) painted, often with neon colors, and decorated with beads, glitter, feathers .

I haven't been to the Saturday Market for a couple of years; but when I have gone there, I didn't notice her around. I think she left the area some time ago, or at least, stopped making her wonderful folk art.

(cross posted on UFO Mary.)