Welcome to this generous sharing from artists of their intimate insight into the subject of Women at Prayer.
This exhibition came into being when The Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross and The Center for Anglican Communion Studies at Virginia Theological Seminary asked Episcopal Church & Visual Arts (ECVA) to put out a call for works capturing women's prayer as part of a conference called Anglican Women at Prayer: Weaving our Bonds of Affection. The conference, March 14-16, 2014, draws together women from around the Anglican Communion to share their prayer experiences—what they pray for, and how they pray. This conference would be incomplete without the wordless relationship with the Divine captured in color, pen, and brushstroke. All the art here will be projected as part of the conference. We invite you to join us in prayer as you enter this exhibition

Phoebe Griswold



Christien Aalberts

Margaret Amada

Jim apRoberts  1 2

Jimpsie Ayres

Joyce Beaulieu

Lisa Bell  1 2 
Kathy Bozzuti-Jones  1 2

Kathrin Burleson

Lynn Chidwick

Shin-hee Chin  1 2

Sr. Claire Joy, CHS

Ferris Cook
Lil Copan

Anne Cameron Cutri  1 2

Jerry Di Falco

Paula Dittrick

Kathy Eppick
Jane Eschweiler  1 2

Marge B. Fulton  1 2 3

Tessa Garver-Daniels  1 2

Kathy Gibson

Tobias Stanislas Haller, BSG

Mary Lou Hartman
Linda Witte Henke  1 2

Linda Hunter

C. Robin Janning

Joy Jennings

Anneke Kaai  1 2 3

Anne Marilyn Karoly
Brian R. Lindsay

Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga  1 2

James A. Mangum

Sharon Mason

Nancy Matthias
Janet McKenzie  1 2 3

Cathie Meighan, SSJ  1 2

Elizabeth MacKiernan Miel  1 2

Mary Jane Miller

Barbara Mitchell
Fata Mullinax

Vanya Mullinax

Edward Mullins

Joseph Neiman  1 2

Claire Campbell Park

Margaret Adams Parker
Sarah Peschell

Melaney Poli  1 2

Sarah Rehfeldt

Zachary Roesemann  1 2

Penny Ross

Jeanne Rudisill

RaRa Schlitt  1 2

Bryan Spoon
Diane Walker

Paula Wallace  1 2

Fran Wallis

Jeanne Harris Weaver

Carol Ann Webb

Anne Wetzel

Curator's Statement

Jesus invited his disciples to “pray always and not lose heart.” Throughout the centuries faithful women and men have responded to this call. Indeed we imagine that great cloud of witnesses—those living and those who have crossed over to the further shore—raising hearts and hands and voices in prayer. We can imagine as well, the myriad ways in which those prayers have been offered: echoing to the chorus of organ pipes and a thousand voices; chanted to the beat of a single drum in a desert village; shouted on tiptoe with arms outstretched; whispered in the silence of our hearts. 

We recognize also those ways in which we pray without words. Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement and herself an indefatigable prayer, asked: “Since when are words the only acceptable form of prayer?” She maintained that people “pray through the witness of their lives, through the work they do, the friendships they have, the love they offer people and receive…” (Robert Coles, Dorothy Day, A Radical Devotion, p.28). We would add to this list the prayers that are offered through the arts, through dance and drama and story and instrument and song. And—this is the special purview of Episcopal Church and Visual Arts (ECVA)—those prayers that are made visible through the skill of the artist’s hand: embodied prayers that are painted or drawn or printed, modeled or woven or stitched. 

ECVA is pleased to offer a selection of these visual prayers in Women At Prayer.  Through these images, we honor women’s voices and women’s prayers, those essential reflections of women’s lives that have too often been kept hidden, gone unremarked. As jurors we are grateful for the rich and varied range of images we received. Seldom has an ECVA Call for Entries met with such an astonishing outpouring. 

We invite you to celebrate with us this visual bounty—these vital and stirring prayers that move us in so many different ways. Jimpsie Ayres’ Prayer, with its radiant color and joyous gesture, and RaRa Schlitt’s Taking One's Heart to God, which dances with childlike exuberance and energy, gladden our hearts. The Widow’s Prayer, Joy Jennings’ wrenching lament, and Jeanne Harris Weaver's Self-Portrait: Lament To Todd, speak courageously about keeping faith in the face of isolating grief. Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriaga’s Prayers of Deliverance 2012
stirs us to outrage as we bear witness to one mother’s desperation, while Jim apRoberts’ Los Desparecidos - The Missing Ones, reminds us of the countless victims of political oppression across the globe. 

Anneke Kaai depicts, in Hannah’s Prayer, the misery experienced by Hannah because of her barrenness, her torment at the hands of Peninah, and her deep longing for a child. Melaney Poli’s quieter image, Portrait with Guardian Angel, reminds us of the silent peace that can accompany our awareness of God’s protection. Vanya Mullinax shows us the same inward stillness in his moving meditation with Mother Teresa, and Janet McKenzie, in The Inspiration of Saint Monica, imagines Augustine’s mother in a moment of quiet contemplation. And we enter the prayers of two remarkable medieval mystics through Zachary Roesemann's traditional icon, Julian of Norwich, and Lil Copan's contemporary
icon of Hildegard of Bingen (whom artists hold in particular honor for her astonishing visual prayers).

Other images evoke the power of wordless prayer. Sharon Mason portrays quiet mysticism in her More Than Words; Cathie Meighan, SSJ, offers a more fiery meditation in Annunciation; Anneke Kai seems to show the in-breaking of the Holy Spirit in her Private Prayer; and Linda Witte Henke, in Glossolalia, employs luminous color and wordless words to reflect on those “sighs too deep for words.”

Sarah Peschell’s Sacred Work, a woman seated at her sewing machine, and Tessa Garver-Daniels’ Little Thing, a mother painting her daughter’s finger nails with careful attentiveness, embody Dorothy Day’s assertion that works of prayer can be the work of our hands. Indeed, if there is a unifying theme in the show it is the presence of hands, repeated in image after image. How apt this is for a celebration of women’s prayers; for women’s hands embody not only women’s tenderness and their gifts for the care of others, but also their great capabilities and strengths. We are reminded of the “Valorous Woman” portrayed in Proverbs 30:10-31 and all the ways that the works of her hands—described in such rich detail—reflect what Ellen Davis describes as her “strength, dignity, and social power” (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs, pp.150-55). Among the many hands to be found in this exhibition, we see those of the anonymous woman, reaching up to anoint Christ’s feet with her tears and her hair, in Bryan Spoon’s Luke 7:36-50; we see hands that touch Jerusalem’s Western Wall with longing, as in Christien Aalberts’ Praying, and in supplication, as in Barbara Mitchell’s Prayers at the Western Wall; and, in Aaronic Blessing #2, Woman at Prayer, by Tobias Stanislas Haller, BSG, hands stretch out to bless a supplicant whose own hands are clasped in prayer.

Two images sum up the essence of Women At Prayer. Like so many of the women depicted in our exhibition, The Daughters of Jerusalem (eight) from Stations of the Cross, in Jane Eschweiler’s stunning and deceptively simple watercolor have no names, no faces. These women could be from any place or any time. Indeed, they are any woman and every woman; they remind us that women’s lives and their prayers have too often passed unrecognized and unacknowledged. Our lead image, Chinmoku – Silence by Shin-hee Chin, evokes with great power those qualities at the heart of prayer: silence, intensity, longing, supplication, trust. Rendered in a starkly sober range of blacks, whites, and grays that are woven with a bare hint of color, the image includes a curtain—the veil that both reveals and conceals God’s presence—just beginning to stir.  

We are grateful to all the artists who took the time to reflect on the theme of Women at Prayer. I offer particular thanks to my colleagues in this visual journey of prayer—Phoebe Griswold and C. Robin Janning—whose collegiality deepened my pleasure in working on this exhibition. All of us invite you to pray with us, through these works of art. In Christ’s own words: “Come and see!” (John:1:39).

Margaret Adams Parker