Guest Post by Katie Payne
Katie just graduated with an MFA from Brigham Young University, and is about to move across the continent to start a new adventure with her
husband. She loves art, dill pickle dip, and long walks. Her personal website is www.katie-payne.com
My art over the last few years has tended to focus on my experience as a woman, especially as a Mormon woman. Most recently, I have created a large exhibition focusing on Heavenly Mother. The whole project started soon after I got married and moved to a foreign country with my husband. Unable to talk to my own mother on a regular basis, I felt that something was lacking. I started thinking more about my relationship with my mother, and since I had recently gone to the temple for the first time, about my relationship to the divine.
This thinking left me wondering about my Mother in Heaven. Where was she? Why didn’t we ever talk about her? I remembered a lesson in seminary where I was told that the reason we don’t talk about her is that she is so special and sacred. Just as we don’t talk about the sacred ceremonies of the temple, we should also refrain from giving too much attention to our sacred Mother in Heaven. I also heard that God didn’t want us to take her name in vain, so we couldn’t ever know her name.
I started searching the Internet for information about Heavenly Mother. I read many blog posts and articles, anything I could find. When I went back to school for the year, I took a Mormon Women’s History class and based my research paper on the historical writings versus blog posts about Heavenly Mother. At this point, I decided to make an art piece about what I had learned—that there is information about Heavenly Mother and we can talk about her. I hope to change, even if just a little, the idea that talking about Heavenly Mother is taboo.
It took me a while to decide how to best convey the information. I continued to read everything I could find that might help me in my quest. I found my answer after reading the mythologist Joseph Campbell’s book Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine. In the book he talks about how goddesses are often associated with labyrinths. Immediately I knew that was it. I would represent my journey through my art, allowing others to follow, in some small way, my personal path.
I ended up creating a labyrinth out of huge panels of white fabric, with various quotes and images embroidered with white thread. The piece fills a large room, with over 200 feet of fabric walls in BYU’s Gallery 303 in the Harris Fine Art Center. It will be up until May 10th, with an open house on May 8th starting at 7 pm.
I invite all to come and see the exhibition, whether or not you can come to the open house. I want to get the word out to as many people as possible because I believe that this message is worth sharing.