The story of the Virgin of the Bean began in El Bruc, Spain, near the Benedictine monastery at Montserrat. As I was sweeping up the studio floor, I noticed an unusual form and picked it up to examine it further. It turned out to be a locust bean pod from one of the trees outside. For days, I made timed drawings to get more familiar with it, and I realized how accurately it seemed to represent an icon of the Virgin. Since that discovery in 2011, I've used the bean for more drawings, and as the introductory paintings for my installation at the University of Maine in 2014. I'm curious about all the aspects of Mary and what she represents, and this has given rise to an ongoing series of watercolor woodcuts.
There are many other correspondences surrounding the locust pod and the Virgin. Particularly resonant for me is the legend that the statue of the Virgin of Montserrat, La Moreneta or the Little Dark One, was found in the 9th century by shepherd boys who were led to her resting place by an angel. She's tied to the earth through her color and legendary place of discovery, and was so heavy that the monks could not move her and so built the monastery around her.
It's important to me to bring a sense of the medieval to this exploration, and I've chosen woodcuts as a way into this ongoing series.