Madonnas and trees are both symbols of the Winter Solstice.
The Druids venerated evergreen trees as manifestations of deity and as symbols of the universe. To the Celts, these trees were sacred because they did not die from year to year like deciduous trees. They represented the eternal aspect of the Goddess who is also immortal, their greenery symbolic of the hope for the sun’s return.
The Druids decorated the evergreen trees at Yule with all the images of the things they wished the waxing year to bring. Fruits for a successful harvest, love charms for happiness, nuts for fertility, and coins for wealth adorned the trees. These were the origins of many of the images on today’s Christmas trees.
In Scandinavia, Yule trees were brought inside to provide a warm and festive place for tree elementals who inhabited the woodland. Candles were the equivalent of today’s tree lights.
Gradually sacred tree imagery was absorbed by Christianity–but it was never able to destroy trees’ resonance within our collective unconscious.
We realize when we plant a tree we are encouraging the Earth to breathe, and the trees we decorate now with symbols of our perfect worlds actually animate what we hope for in the coming year; as from this night, the light returns, reborn.
The Madonna of course symbolizes the Universal Mother, the Goddess, predating Christianity, she has much earlier roots from Babylon to Egypt, and the Mediterranean where she is still known as Stella Maris. Star of the Sea.
From Ishtar to Isis we know her also as Aphrodite. Botticelli’s Venus rising from the waters.
The two artists featured at the Michael McCormick Gallery this Season honor Mother Nature through these Universal Archetypes.
Miguel Martinez was born and raised here. His interest in the arts started in high school where he discovered the joy of paint, clay and other media. After becoming a successful jewelry designer, he turned to painting, committing himself completely to a study of this discipline, and spending five years working with several prominent New Mexico Artists including RC Gorman, Ray Vinella, and Frank Howell.
During this period Miguel developed his signature style: the inspiring Madonnas and portraits of women with enlarged and stylized almond eyes, evocative of Orientalist Iconography.
taoStyle has featured Miguel’s work during the Holiday Season since launching four years ago, and it has become tradition!
This year the Seasonal theme at the Michael McCormick Gallery appears to be Madonnas and Trees. I think it is totally appropriate during these times of Climate Change and uncertain weather patterns, not to mention other troubling events.
Perhaps a few candles lit in honor of Mother Nature would calm the stormy waters, in our own homes at least!
Roberto Ugalde has also been featured on the blog. His use of oils in an impressionistic manner breathes life into the trees he’s become known for. Ugalde was born in Querétaro, Mexico and has loved to draw and paint since he was a boy.
He studied at the Instituto Nacional de Bella’s Artes INBA in Querétaro. He began to show and sell his work through commissions and galleries in Mexico and here, since immigrating to the United States in 1994,
Roberto uses of oils in an impressionistic manner applied mostly with a pallet knife but he also works with liquid industrial oil base paint dropped on a horizontal canvas and manipulating the color. “Looking for a bridge between abstract and realistic landscapes,” he says.
His depictions of the Aspen groves in our region, groves held sacred by the Native American Tribes who once inhabited these woodlands, are as magical as the root systems of these trees themselves. All connecting, deep within the Earth. All one Tree of Life.
Both of these incredible artists show exclusively with the Michael McCormick Gallery in Taos.
For more information, please visit the site linked below.
All images thanks to the McCormick Gallery