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Our Mother Mary Found
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Click image to see Our Mother Mary Found Installation View
at the Basilica of St. Mary (Minneapolis, MN)


View a film about Our Mother Mary Found:
[Remembering Miriam: Crafting Identity in the Work of Beth Grossman, an article by Sarah Glover]

Our Mother Mary - Statement:

Our Mother Mary found has been exhibited at:

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN, August- April 2007
The Basilica of Saint Mary, Minneapolis, MN, May - June 2006
Saint Mary College, in Moraga, CA, December 2005
The California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, April - June 2005
The KS Gallery, Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, December 2004 - March 2005

While living in Italy in 2000, Grossman noticed that the images and ideals of the Virgin Mary were woven into the fabric of Italian culture. The artist began to look deeper into the iconic symbolism of the "Madonna." Our Mother Mary Found re-interprets Christianity by personifying Mary's life as a Jewish mother. Grossman recognized that Mary's Jewish identity could open a new approach to interfaith dialogue. The sacredness of a mother's love goes beyond religion, emphasizing humanity as the foundation of these two world religions.

This collection of ten rustic household tools, found in Italy, illustrate the artist's personal Jewish interpretation of the archetypal story of Mary. Each hand-hewn object was chosen for its shape, function or symbolism to represent an episode in Mary's legendary story as depicted in Italian paintings of the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods. A Jewish prayer, excerpted from an 18th century Italian prayer book,* is gilded in Hebrew, English and Italian on each object. These prayers reflect the chapters in Mary's life as she raised her son in the Jewish tradition.

Images of Mary hands, drawn from historical Italian paintings, are also rendered in gold leaf on each object to illuminate them. Mary's hands give symbolic form to the traditional narrative of maternal love and devotion. In researching the Italian paintings, Grossman noticed that the hand gestures communicated a recognizable pattern of edifying human emotions. To quote Grossman, Our Mother Mary Found, "juxtaposes these historic visual codes against the more pragmatic reality of a woman whose daily labor as a mother and faithful Jew gave birth to a prophet and nurtured a revolutionary."

* A Book of Prayers for the Married Jewish Woman, written in the year 5546 (1786) for Mrs. Yehudit Kutscher Coen and presented by Giuseppe Coen. Edited and translated as Out of the Depths I Call to You, by Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin © 1995, 1992, Jason Aronson, Inc. Publishers.