Sunday, October 21, 2012

Artist paints portrait of Kittredge Cherry, lesbian Christian author

Kittredge Cherry is delighted to receive her new portrait on her birthday. (Photo by Audrey)

A portrait of lesbian activist, author and art historian Kittredge Cherry has been painted by Angela Yarber for her “Holy Women Icons” series.

Yes, it’s me! My life partner Audrey commissioned the portrait in honor of my birthday this month. I am pictured with rainbows and this message in my heart:

Body grounded,
her heart dances the passionate
love of God
in queer harmonies
untethered and free...

“Kittredge Cherry” by Angela Yarber,  2012
Acrylic on canvas, 11x14 inches

I love the beautiful way that Angela captured my spirit in words and images with vibrant rainbow energy. It’s an honor to be included in her “Holy Women Icons” series with great lesbians of history as well as goddesses and historical, Biblical, literary and mythological women. She uses a colorful, expressive style to portray holy women from Sappho and Sophia, from Mary the mother of Jesus to lesbian philosopher Mary Daly. What a gift to be among them!  My heart overflows with gratitude.

The portrait wasn’t a surprise present. Part of the gift was collaborating with Angela in the creative process. I helped write the text and choose the rainbow imagery.  One of her first questions to me was “Are there particular colors that are meaningful for you?”

The first “color” that came to mind was a rainbow. The reason was threefold: 1) The rainbow symbolizes the LGBT community, where I have done all my ministry, and affirms my identity as a lesbian who has been in love with the same woman for 37 years. 2) One of my most important healing practices is doing meditations in which I visualize balancing the colors of the rainbow within my body's energy centers (chakras). 3) The rainbow represents God's covenant with humanity in the Bible.

I was delighted by Yarber’s Holy Women Icons when I discovered them last year. I began to dream of having Yarber paint my portrait when I interviewed her for the article Artist paints holy lesbians and other women.

Somehow when I saw her holy women icons I had a feeling that she could portray a loving, dancing essence of me that is not usually visible. Yarber and I are both lesbian ministers, although I am a retired MCC clergy and she is a pastor at a Baptist church in North Carolina. We both studied at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, although I was long gone by the time she got there. For my full bio, click here.

Angela sees her art as a “redemptive act” because it highlights people whose stories are rarely heard and affirms their alternative forms of holiness. Vibrantly alive and life-giving women dance through her paintings. Now I am one of them!  Thanks, Audrey and Angela!

Related link:

This post is part of the Artists series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. The series profiles artists who use lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and queer spiritual and religious imagery.

Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts


Trudie said...

What a fabulous icon, and a lovely gift. It truly does say, "You". I am sorry I missed sending you birthday greetings while in transit from hither to yon, and the computers of my two daughters. As you can see, i did log on to Facebook, but not with the regularity of my spouse, who brought his laptop along. Anyway, blessings and congratulations galore!

Kittredge Cherry said...

Ah, Trudie, I thought you would like seeing me among the Holy Women icons. Thanks for your comment, and I'm glad that your trip is going well.