May 25 is the feast day of Mary the Mother of James. Yea, Mary!!! But here’s the thing: no one really knows much about her. The only reason we know anything at all about her is because one of her sons became a follower of a radical rabbi in the 1st century. She ended up following them both around, sharing their work and helping to pay their way. So if you read about them, you will see her mentioned a couple of times.
Who hasn’t felt like this Mary before? She’s the “other Mary.” Not that she wanted it, but she didn’t get as much attention as her son or even the other Mary’s in her crowd. But would they have gotten as much accomplished without her help? Probably not. And when things started to come apart and her son’s friends were too afraid to deal with the fallout, she was there to help pick up the pieces.
There are not as many portraits or stained glass windows or even tchotchkes of her. So, today, I’m gonna give Mary the Mother of James her props by welcoming her to the Hall of Marys.
Can a sister get her own portrait?
It has been too long since my last post, and way too long since I inaugurated the Hall of Marys. Today is Mary Cassatt’s birthday and I can’t think of a better reason to break my online silence!
Mary Cassatt self portrait
Here are the reasons that Mary Cassatt was nominated (by me) and elected (by me) to join my sainted grandmother in the Hall of Marys:
1) She pursued her career in art despite objections from her family and the sexist attitudes of her male peers.
2) She once said, ” I am independent! I can live alone and and love to work.”
3) She was one of 3 women and the only American to exhibit with the Impressionist group in late 19th century Paris, which members included the likes of Degas, Monet, Renoir, and Pissarro.
4) She was a badass feminist who didn’t conform to the expectations the male dominated art world at the time–didn’t flirt her way into art shows, didn’t get married, and supported her art through her own work.
5) and too many other reasons, which you may feel free to add!