Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Insipration- HIldegard of Bingen

 I promised I'd write about some of the women artists I'm learning about in my art history class. Here is one of my favorites.
Hildegard de Bingen (1098-1179) was born into a wealthy family in Germany, birth date not quite certain. She was her parents tenth child, and had 'visions' , the earliest when she was about three years old. Her parents didn't know what to do with her, so they shipped her off to a convent when she was eight. This was the best thing that could have happened to her. Convents were the only places females had access to education. She was taken under the wing of a nun named Jutta, who became her teacher and mentor. She was very intelligent, learned to read, write, create illuminated manuscripts, play and compose music, etc... This painting above is her receiving one of her visions from God. Her friend, a monk named Volmar, who became her secretary, watches. (Yes, she was a female with a male assistant!)
All of Hildegarde's paintings are from her visions. They all rethink the doctrines of the Catholic church from a female, matriarchal perspective. This one is called Forms of the Church, it's a giant Eve there, holding her Sisters of Wisdom in her arms. Girl power all the way!!
Some of her paintings remind me of mandalas. This one is called The Cosmic Egg, like a woman's womb, it shows the universe surrounded by fire, the blue is the sky, in the center are the four elements, bringing nutrients to the entire 'egg'. She said,'woman may be made from man, but no man can be made without a woman'.

Hildegard went on to become the head of her convent, the Abbey of Rupertsberg.  Women flocked to join her in droves. Her visions were 'approved' by the pope, and she was given considerable power. When she wanted more independence, she moved her whole convent away from a nearby monastery. Her community flourished. She wrote nine books, plays, composed music. She lived into her 80s.
Jonah Winter wrote a children's book about her, The Secret World of Hildegard, illustrated by his mom, Jeanette Winter.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hey! Our book won an award!

The 2010 CALA (Chinese American Librarians Association) Best Book Committee has chosen CHINESE AND ENGLISH NURSERY RHYMES as one of the top ten best books in the Juvenile Books category. The CALA Best Books Committee selects and produces a list of best books on Chinese topics by Chinese or Chinese descent authors published in a designated calendar year.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Inspiration - Girl Power!

 I just started a summer art history class, 'Women and Art: Medieval through the 19th Century'. Wow, has art history changed since I last took a class! These are all paintings by women I had never heard of before today... above is a self-portrait by Hildegard of Bingen, a nun who had visions, wrote books and painted, she was the 10th child in her family and given to the church as a child...

... this is a self portrait by Angelika Kauffman, a Swiss-Austrian woman who spent much of her life in Italy where she was quite famous in her day...
...and this one, my favorite, by Suzanne Valadon, who grew up in Montmartre in Paris. She was a model for Renoir, Degas, and Toulouse-Lautrec, posing and learning painting techniques from them. Their life stories are all fascinating, as is their art.
But why are there no art history books for kids about these amazing women??