May 13, 2015 at 9:09 am #7344REFiendModerator
Mary the mother of Jesus is an important biblical woman. The Mother of Christ appears several times in the Gospels but these accounts do not give us a physical picture of the woman: what they give is are stories of her actions and interactions.
Because of this gap in our knowledge artists have been able to use their own imaginations when offering us portraits of Mary. Understandably artists draw on their own cultures so white European artists have tended to portray her as a white European woman. However Mary was Jewish and Christianity spread out of the Middle East so it is important to offer students alternative images of Mary from a variety of different places where Christians live and worship – both in the past and today. If a variety of images are not offered to the children they will not get an understanding of Christianity as a world wide faith and of the way that the Bible has been understood in different places. Nor will they be able to start to appreciate that we draw/paint/portray someone in a way that reflects our own beliefs about them and our feelings towards them. Images are not just about the physical!
To get you started here are 13 beautiful non-white European depictions of Mary:
Perhaps you could use these in the classroom by putting the children into smal groups and allowing them to look at all/some of the images here. Ask the groups to:
1 Look at the paintings and identify their favourite – why have they chosen that one? If the group cannot agree let them talk about each of the ones they have chosen…
2 Can the children guess the country the painting comes from? What does this tell them about the spread of the Christian faith around the world? Does this surprise anyone?
3 What kind of person does the painting they have chosen portray Mary to be? Why do they say that?
4 Mary was specially chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus: how does their image reflect the belief that Mary was chosen/special/connected to God’s plan?
4 Mary was the mother of Jesus: the man Christians believe God chose to save the human race from the mistakes made by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden… How does the painting portray Jesus? Does he look like the baby that Christians believe will save the world from itself?
5 Once the students have reflected on their own painting they could spend sometime exploring the paintings chosen by other children – do they like their ideas and conclusions about the painting? Can they give reasons for agreeing or disagreeing?
What do they think the paintings in this collection say about the way that Christians understand Mary the Mother of Jesus?