Born in Arkansas in 1936,
Craighead grew up in the Midwest and attended Catholic schools
before graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a MFA in
painting. A job as a college art teacher brought her to Albuquerque,
New Mexico and there she fell in love the spare landscape of the
high desert and ancient Native American cultures. Deeply religious,
she imbibed the Catholic and native spiritualities of New Mexico.
For over 20 years, she lived in Europe, studying and teaching. In
1966, she entered a cloistered monastery in England and received the
name, Meinrad. Stanbrook Abbey had a fine printing business, and
for several years, Meinrad’s graphic art illustrated their
publications. She was fascinated with the images of the feminine
divine and illustrated numerous publications of the Stanbrook Abbey
Leaving the monastery after
14 years, Meinrad returned to New Mexico and kept her religious
name. Unlike the city-centered Corita Kent, she was drawn to a
solitary contemplative life in a simple house and studio,
accompanied by silence, cottonwoods, the Rio Grande and beloved pet
dogs. Painting her dreams and beliefs, she has gathered a wide
following of like-minded disciples blending feminist, Native
American, and archetypes of the Great Mother into her paintings.
With intuitive contemplation, this artist dreams and then paints
into being her images.
These two women artists drew
inspiration from their surroundings and their work is imbued with
their intuition and convictions. Corita is the artist of the passing
image and Meinrad is the artist of the long gaze.
The Elizabeth Sullivan (SAS
1948) Memorial Collection on Ecofeminism was founded by her sister,
Nancy (SAS 1950) to honor Liz’s love of nature and inspirational
women like the two artists displayed here. Meinrad Craighead
exemplifies the kind of woman of vision and creativity that combines
the values of reverence for nature, the divine, and the special
intuition that belongs to women.
Meinrad Craighead. The
Litany of the Great River. New York: Paulist Press, 1991.
Using the image of the river,
Meinrad illustrates the abiding presence of running water and
repetitive prayer response (a litany). Each illustration from her
dreams is accompanied with an invocation to God and a petition:
“..we beseech thee.” The image of the she wolf, a Native American
symbol of teacher, as well as other Pueblo animals appear in her
paintings. This is a prayer book using the powers of nature to unite
with the longing and desire of the human spirit.
Meinrad Craighead. Sacred
Marriage: Images from the Song of Songs, Nicholas Ayo. New York:
This portfolio of selected
images illustrating the biblical love canticle, the Song of Songs,
displays the artist’s meditations on the Lover’s words to His
beloved. Pueblo and Native American images abound with animals and
the New Mexico landscape.
Meinrad Craighead. Crow
Mother and the Dog God. San Francisco. Pomegranate, 2003.
This large retrospective
collection of Meinrad’s works, autobiography, and essays by friends
traces the history and development of her art from young adulthood
through recent years. Beginning with charcoal drawings, her art
developed into black and white print-making, scratchboard, and, more
recently, into opaque watercolor. Hers is a carefully worked,
detailed style, a contrast to the “rapid” images of Corita Kent.
Meinrad Craighead DVD viewings:
Interested in the
power of women as artists, seers, and spirit-filled?
Craighead: Praying with Images” DVD on Feb. 2, 4, 9, 11, 17, 23 & 25
at 12:30-1:30 p.m.in the Gill Library Instruction Room.