A Mother Here: Heavenly Mother Art and Poetry Contest

“You can’t be what you can’t see.” That’s the line from Miss Representation that has stuck with me since I saw the film over a year ago. It rang true to me then when I thought of girls envisioning their lives, and it rings true to me now when I think of the new Heavenly Mother Art and Poetry Contest that is currently being organized by Martin Pulido, great-grandson of painter Minerva Teichert and co-author of that BYU Studies article on Heavenly Mother.

How can women ever envision themselves as divine beings, as gods equal in every way to male counterparts, if Heavenly Mother almost never gets depicted or even mentioned in Mormon discourse? Does this cultural silence mean that women look forward to an eternity of invisibility and subsumption into male divinity? I refuse to believe that, and I fear the soul-stunting results of this silence about Heavenly Mother on Mormon women (and men, for that matter). We desperately need images that bring Heavenly Mother into the forefront of Mormons’ consciousness, that communicate permission to think about her, pray about her, and bring her into our religious speech.

That’s why I am so excited about the A Mother Here: Heavenly Mother Art and Poetry Contest. Images are powerful. Poetry is powerful. Both will help Mormon women to literally see themselves as gods, and it will inspire the men around them to likewise see in women all that is holy, powerful, and godly.

Mary Daly famously said, “If god is male, then male is god.” I think there’s a lot of truth in that, and I don’t want to inhabit a tradition in which  god is nearly always depicted as male. So all you artists and poets, please submit your work to this contest. And all of you that know artists or poets, please refer them to the contest website. Thousands of dollars will be given out in prize money to the winners, and there is no cost to enter. The submission deadline is March 14, 2014. By the way, we are only half-funded for the contest. So if you believe in this project, please consider donating $5 or $10 through paypal on the website.

I’d love to know your thoughts about this contest, and ways we might expand it in the future. Perhaps in a couple of years we should do a contest for Heavenly Mother music? What else?




Caroline has a PhD in religion and studies Mormon women.

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12 Responses

  1. EmilyCC says:

    I’m so excited about this contest because it a. fills a deep void, and b. as an editor who relies on the generosity of ally and Mormon feminist artists regularly, I’m thrilled to see a competition that can offer these talented people a token of gratitude.

  2. Leslee says:

    This sounds like a great contest! And I would be very eager to participate in something similar for music, so I hope that is in the works sometime. 🙂

    It appears that the link to the contest doesn’t work, at least it didn’t go anywhere when I tried it.

  3. EFH says:

    I am so thrilled for this. I hope that all the works will be available to the audience not just the winning ones. I personally have a hard and easy time imagining how the Mother in Heaven is like. On one hand, she can’t be that different in glory, power, wisdom and love from Heavenly Farther. But on the other hand I have no idea what she is like. I suppose we do not know much about Heavenly Farther either but because we speak of him often, we have an easier time imagining what he is like. It is the silence around the Heavenly Mother that is numbing our intuition about her. What a great contest!

  4. Emily U says:

    I’m so excited to see this, too! Now I know where my interfaith fast for gender equality fast offering is going!

  5. Heather says:

    I am so excited about this! I’ve been on a personal journey to build a relationship with my Heavenly Mother, and this speaks to my soul.

  6. Melody says:

    Music is a wonderful idea! Really, any art inspired by our thoughts of Heavenly Mother would be awesome – sculpture, textile, etc. But that’s a little tougher to manage. I feel that any action, thought or artistic endeavor with the Divine Feminine in mind, invites Her into our world. For that reason, I love this whole thing. I miss her terribly.

    The cash awards are generous too, which helps legitimize and add weight to the project. Well done, folks!

  1. August 13, 2013

    […] am also grateful for Caroline’s recent post, relating the phrase, “You can’t be what you can’t see,” to the important […]

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