“Mary and Eve”: An Introduction

“Mary and Eve”: An Introduction

“Mary and Eve”: An Introduction 150 150 Andrew Hicks

I stumbled across this image a long time ago. At the time, I didn’t know anything about it other than the fact that I liked it. I saved it as the background photo on my phone. I kept stumbling back upon it as time went on though. I would see it pop up on Facebook or Instagram now and then – especially around Christmas time. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one for whom this image resonated.

I recently looked into it more so I would know about it. The work is called “Mary and Eve.” It was drawn in crayon and colored pencil by Grace Remington, OCSO from the Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey. The Catholic devotion to Mary surely plays a part in the depiction, but there is an invitation open in art that leaves room for Protestants to make their appropriations of the work as well I think.

There are lots of great reflections on this piece of art (see some below). I have posted already about it once before sharing some of my reflections on it (see here). So here I offer yet further reflections on the work:

  • What has always struck me about this work is the child-like joy of it. I think this is symbolically conveyed by means of the materials used for its creation. It was drawn in crayons and colored pencils – instruments of a children’s creativity. The same wide-eyed awe of the world that Adam and Eve in some sense lost at the fall is visible in this portrait as the tired eyed Eve looks to the swelling belly of the tender eyed Mary. There are no dark colors in this picture. If Eve were given to color this she might have added dark colors, but instead the joy that will be hers one way or another because of the Christ child is conveyed by the bright golden background.
  • Those burnt orange fruits on the arch surrounding Mary and Eve have always struck me. I think the symbolism of “be fruitful and multiply” should not be lost here for it is ultimately fulfilled in Christ born, but there is more here too. I realize now upon further reflection that I do not know what that fruit is. The closest comparison for shape is an acorn squash, but the color is not quite right for an acorn squash. The color reminds me more of a mango with its orange and red. I think – then – we are not supposed to identify it with any one particular and specific fruit of which we are already aware. Rather, I think its shape and color are used to provoke our appetites and salivate our senses so that we are hungry for them. These, I imagine, are the fruits of the trees of life of the new creation.
  • This final thought on the piece is the real reason behind my posting (again) about it at all. I am planning to incorporate this photo somehow into my Mother’s Day sermon in a few weeks (5/14/23). So motherhood was a motif of scripture that I was thinking and dwelling on that brought me to think of this piece. Motherhood is a key thing that binds Eve and Mary together. “Eve” was so named because of her designation as the “mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20). Mary of course has historically been honored with the title Theotokos (“God bearer” or “mother of God”). Thus, they are primarily mothers. And that should not be thought of as a reduction of their identity, but a magnification of it. The protoevangelium alludes to this: “I will put enemies between you an the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15).

Links, Readings, and Resources

“Analysis of an Incredible Eve/Mary Artwork by a Roman Catholic Nun” – Steve Reed

“6 Things To Notice In This Beautiful Image of Mary and Eve” – Garrett Johnson

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