Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Brigid, aka "Venus de Mello

I also call this figure "Venus de Mello" because my daughter,Brianna Mello, inspired this piece while she was pregnant with her first child, our first grandchild. While she was in labor I whittled on Brigid on a park bench outside the hospital. At one point I wrapped her up in a towel and walked up to Labor&Delivery to check on the progress, and then back outside. I learned later that I had caused a lock down of the hospital because someone had thought Brigid was a rifle that I was carrying under the towel, and had reported me to Security, who reacted by putting the hospital in lock down. The Labor&Delivery nurse was NOT happy with me!

"Brigid" was banned from an art show in Hartford, CT for being "indecent." To call Brigid obscene seems beyond prudish to me. I removed all of my stuff from the show when they told me to remove her from the building. Here is the story of Brigid.
Brent E. White

Hi Brent,

It was so very nice to meet you yesterday. Your work is brilliant and beautiful and I'm happy to have your pieces in the show. Sharon O'Brien, Director of Integrative Medicine Department will be calling you sometime today. She was worried about the nudity of your sculpture and asked the Vice President of St. Francis Hospital to come and look at Brigid this morning. Well, that Vice President happens to be a catholic nun and she was not happy to see the nude sculpture in her building. So she asked politely to have it removed. I am actually embarrassed about it and am having a hard time believing that she wants your sculpture out of the show. I am so very sorry about this. Would you consider bringing something else in it's place? Sharon O'Brien has also promised me that she will call a number of OB GYN's to come and look at your sculpture before you take it out. She thinks that one of them might be interested in purchasing it. So that's a good thing. Anyway, Sharon will be calling you sometime today about all this. Please let me know if you want to put something else into the show and I will change the price list, etc.

Again, I'm sorry about this and I still can't believe it. Well, that's Connecticut for you - it's very conservative here - much more than I ever imagined!

In Irish mythology, Brigid is known as the "exalted one." She had two sisters, also named Brigid, and is considered a classic Celtic Triple Goddess. Brigid is revered as a goddess of fertility, as well as "a woman of poetry, and poets worshipped her, for her sway was very great and very noble.” She was also a woman of healing and artisty. It was she who first made the whistle for calling one to another through the night. One side of her face was ugly, perhaps an act of self-mutilation, but the other side was very comely. The meaning of her name is "Breo-saighit,” a fiery arrow.

Brigid’s feast day is Imbolc, a Celtic festival marking the beginning of Spring. It has been suggested that Brigid was later Christianised as St Brigid, whose saint day is the same time as Imbolc, around 1 or 2 February.

That St Brigid shares both her name and her feast day with those of the earlier pagan goddess may indicate that Saint Brigid is partially or entirely a fictional creation based on the pagan figure in order to convert Celts to Christianity. The rationalizing of pagan figures and mythological accounts into actual historical events was a common practice of early Christian missionaries, such as St Patrick, whom religious accounts credit for turning Brigid from paganism to Christianity - or the real-life saint may merely have been named after the goddess.

In the Christian tradition, St Brigid is at times known as "the Patroness of Ireland" and "Queen of the South: the Mary of the Gael." In addition, St Brigid is highly venerated by many Eastern Orthodox Christians as one of the great Western saints before the schism between the Eastern and Western Churches.

In this figure of Brigid, the intwined arms and legs represent the entwined pagan and saint Brigid. The seeing and the blind eyes represent enlightenment and ignorance. The golden-ratio swirls on her belly and breasts represent the pagan triad and christian holy trinity. The turtile and Kokepeli represent Polynesian and Native American fertility symbols in their respective spirituality. The Flower of Life adorns her back. The Tree of Life, with branches outlining the face of a god-figure, embraces Brigid with its shade, and she springs from it’s roots as if in rebirth. Is she reaching for forbidden fruit?.

Saint Brigid was not given to sleep,
Nor was she intermittent about God's love of her;
Not merely that she did not buy, she did not seek,
The wealth of this world below the holy one.

Christ was made known to men
On our island of Hibernia
by the very great miracles
which he performed
through the happy virgin of celestial life,
famous for her merits
through the whole world.

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