I shot this body of work last June, and have sat with it since, not knowing why I did it or what it was. Recently, after months of separation, I came back to these images and realized I captured white, Americanized Madonna, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ.
If you ask most westerners to describe Jesus they’ll say something along the lines of a white man with blue or light brown eyes, light brown hair that’s long and the iconic Jesus beard. Similarly Mary would be describe as a fair skinned, blonde haired, blue eyed, beauty. There is absolutely no way that these westernized versions are accurate. Both Jesus and his mother are of middle eastern descent; this means that they had darker skin, darker eyes and darker hair. Yet in our own selfish, western, pursuits we have turned them into us and by doing so, completely changed who they were/are. The idea of white Mary lessens the significants of her story. She has become an idol, a representation, something all women should strive to be. She is no longer a real person, someone who experienced human hardships – a sinner like us. The real Mary’s story is much more incredible than that of a blameless virgin girl who had a baby. She was a young, scared, teenager who out of wedlock, through immaculate conception, gave birth to the savior of the world. By cultural standards she should have been stoned to death, forsaken by her family and cast out by Joseph, her soon to be husband. That story has a greater impact; it seems more real, more relatable, because it is more human. That Mary is a more attainable role model; a young girl who loved God and listened to his will for her life, not a flawless symbol of American/European perfection.