Elisabeth (Beth) Hudgins
While starting to think about the idea of The Divine Feminine, I was drawn back to some of the earliest works of prehistoric art: the Venus figurines. These figurines, some of which were carved from soft stone, were found in many different cultures; the oldest date back 35,000 years. I decided to explore the idea that “The Feminine” is found in most things in nature, even in a solid mass of rock. When I am out in nature, I feel surrounded by The Divine. Given so many signs of The Divine throughout the natural world, I chose to begin my creative process along a stream bed by stacking stones and making cairns to depict feminine figures. I love the solid but ephemeral nature of these figures; eventually all of my cairns were washed away by the flow of the water in the stream.
I tried to transfer the solid yet ephemeral nature of my cairns to paint on paper. (Some of my paintings of cairns are included in the exhibit.) Then I decided to depict other natural and divine elements in my paintings — water, air, earth, fire — and translate those to the feminine form.
The Divine Feminine is everywhere. It is in the solidness of rock and in the fluidity of water, which has the power to overcome the rock.
Mother Earth nurtures life in infinite diversity. Every niche in every climate, from the Amazon rainforest to the driest desert, has life forms uniquely adapted to their surroundings. These life forms creatively express the evocations of bountiful life from the materials at hand.
For me, the natural world is the most compelling manifestation of The Divine Feminine.
My deepest spiritual connections are felt in natural environments. In particular, waterfalls enchant me and inspire awe. A summer spent in Yellowstone National Park gave me the opportunity to visit dozens of waterfalls in various rocky and leafy settings. Water is a critical elemental force, with blessings and hazards, to be respected and lived with in partnership.
In researching spiritual writers for inspiring ideas, I was struck by the frequent linkage of water, life, and spirit. Small wonder that the image of water makes its appearance in many of my paintings.
The Divine Feminine is about connection—connecting with oneself, family, friends, community, the earth, and one’s definition of God. Connection happens in physical and spiritual realms, and it defines who we are.
Ultimately, The Divine Feminine is the love, creativity, and energy in our world that guide us in relationship with oneself and others.
The poetry of Mary Oliver moves me deeply. Oliver’s quiet observations of the natural world reveal through her words what I attempt to reveal through my paintings. While the poet arranges language, I arrange colors, values, and shapes.
My intention in this series is to evoke The Divine Feminine through the symbolism of flowers, emblematic of nature, gently held in containing vessels. Each of my paintings is titled with a quote from an Oliver poem and is inspired by my joyful quest for The Divine Feminine.