If you have landed here after June 1st and are looking for Our Lady, she is no longer here. All sales of The Marian Collection (excluding Christmas cards) ceased on June 1st and I am closed for commissions until further notice.

Perhaps you've found me the same way a lot of people have found me in the online world -- through Our Lady. If you are reading this I am assuming you are here looking for her. As of June 1, 2020 you will no longer see her here (Christmas cards will remain available for now). It's not because my devotion has waned. Not at all. But, it pains me to say that Marian art, and religious art as a whole really, has become a bit of a sore spot for me as an artist. When I sit down to create it I have a very strong uprising of bitterness and anger. Some would say that is a sign to push through. Resistance. A sure sign that I am doing something right. But I have tried strong-arming those feelings and I've tried painting them over with a positive light and the truth is, I cannot right now.

You see, Marian art specifically has always been a deep well of emotions for me. It was how I came to be a convert (perhaps I will tell that story another time in a brighter blog post) and it was also how I met my first professional shaming. When I first started to seek out paid work as a working artist I was a new convert to Catholicism. It was a tumultuous time of uprooting the old and carefully tending the new. I have always tried to create what I would like to come upon and there were few Catholic resources that suited my tastes at a time when I was looking for some. I had a professional artist connection who plugged me in with a popular faith-based company at the time. I had not yet come to terms with the great divide I was straddling with my former protestant/newly catholic title thrust upon me. This was a faith-based company but I had failed to anticipate the deep religious prejudice I would encounter only after they did a bit of poking around on my social media to find out that I was {gasp} a catholic. The relationship ended sourly with some of my pitch ideas ending up in their market and me cut out of the relationship indefinitely. They liked my design ideas but they didn't like my Catholicism.

Taking it as a challenge I decided that I would create a project for myself with a #100daysofourlady art project on instagram. It was an instant success with the first piece. I went from a few hundred followers to several thousand, almost over night. I made it only a few days into the project and my computer (my main source of creating art as I am 90% digital these days) died an untimely death. It was fine one day and then it was dead. I've never been able to recover it to this day. But people were hungry for more and so was I. When they heard I couldn't move forward with this project they started buying up the few prints in my shop and donating money. Word spread and a few weeks later I was able to buy a brand new computer! Many of those early supporters are my most loyal fans and cheerleaders. They send me encouraging messages all the time, and not just about the religious art I create. They've become engaged in my family, my struggles, my victories. However, it wasn't long after I crossed the 1,000 follower mark on instagram that things started to get ugly. I have come to realize after a few years that catholics' devotion to Mary on social media means that they have laid claim of ownership over anything I post of her. It started with opinions about style choices. Then questions about what I was actually trying to convey as though there was some conspiracy. It quickly evolved into an ownership of anything I posted on my social media account.

"You're too political. I wish you would just stick to making art." (Read: Mary. Nothing else. And in whatever style they deem appropriate.)

"You homeschool?! I'm of the opinion that homeschooling perpetuates abuse. Kids fall behind with homeschooling. Your kids can't possibly be where they need to be academically. Oh, you're annoyed that I'm saying this?! I thought you were a fine upstanding Christian. I'll pray for you."

"Maybe you should keep your personal life out of your social media account. It's been my experience that more people will want to buy from you if you aren't so opinionated." (Read: have a different opinion than theirs because they're opinionated too and sell stuff. If you have their opinion then sharing it while selling is ok.)

"You're interested in the life of an artistic nun who left her order?! Well, here I was thinking you were a catholic. Guess I was wrong. You're clearly misguided and heading down the wrong road. I'll pray for you."

"You believe {insert whatever thing has aggravated their spirit that day}?! I thought you were catholic. Guess I was wrong. I'll pray for you."

"The book you shared today has a lesbian in it. The artist you like has a stained past. The music you like isn't very patriotic. The cause you support isn't very republican/democratic. The party line you associate with is a joke. You're a joke. You tricked us. We thought you were a safe place. How can you write books for children? What is your brand even? We can't pin you down. You make us nervous. Don't say that. Maybe you should just stick to making Marian art."

"Oh, but by the way, some of our biggest catholic dioceses and social media accounts will be sharing your art, cropping out your signature, editing it until it's so washed out you're embarrassed by it, adding our own text overlays, never crediting you whatsoever, and it's annoying if you're annoyed by that. That's not very charitable of you. We thought you were catholic. Guess we were wrong."

And these are just some of the milder messages I get on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis. Once, a follower accused me of conducting an unethical social experiment, rallied a mob of angry christians in the comments, found me on my other social media accounts after I blocked her on instagram, "reported me" to other social media accounts that she wrongly assumed were professional member organizations, and threatened to sue me. Want to know what the "unethical social experiment" was that she did not give her consent to be a part of? A portrait I painted of Donald Trump titled: "An Experiment."

So, you can see how "making Marian art" has become a bit of a contentious subject for me. On the one hand, it hurts my heart when I have an idea for a new portrayal of Our Lady and I sit down to create it and this script plays over and over in my mind. On the days when I plow through and make it anyway, singing the old song of "it's the devil trying to keep you from it," as soon as I hit that share button on social media, "the devil" presents as "the church." I would be lying if I tried to pretend that it hasn't impacted my faith over the last couple of years. I, like many, came into the church with deep wounds from the church. So, I don't have a thick skin. Nor, do I want to develop one. I want to feel my feelings. And right now, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.

So, to protect my faith and my art, I have decided to stop offering Mary prints in this space. I've talked with my agent about offering them in another form but that project won't be for a couple more years. I'd really like to see it through so in an attempt to protect that work as well from the burnout that is imminent, I will no longer be sharing Marian art on my social media accounts either. If you no longer see them there that is why. I also won't be responding to requests for customs or answering questions about why I'm not selling them anymore. I don't have the mental bandwidth to deal with the faithful while maintaining my own creative mental space.

Since there will be speculation in my inbox, yes, my faith is still in tact. I am, in fact, still Catholic despite what anyone else thinks. Though, moving forward, I think that label (along with all the others mentioned above) is much too tainted and limiting and, quite honestly, not one that accurately describes the very complex nature of the divine. So, you will rarely see me use it outside of this blog post.

I am so thankful for all of my supporters and excited for a new chapter. I hope that you will stick around and look for The Great Mystery's inevitable imprint on my work. I do not intend to censor the Holy Spirit. So, I make no apologies for Our Lady sneaking her way in where she pleases. It would be exhausting and futile to try to tease apart my work and the divine hand that guides it. As such, you'll already find one piece in the new collection that proves this point. If you've made it this far you deserve a sneak peek.

The new collection launches in June! I can't wait for you to see it!