Over the past two years or so, I have read many accounts of women administering to those who were sick, weary or pregnant, but have not seen any artistic renderings of women participating in the laying on hands until today.
Jenny Reeder’s fabulous website provides a fascinating look at Augusta Crocheron’s poster entitled, “Representative Women of Deseret.” She provides historical information and context about the poster, as well as the book which bears the same title, and contains biographies of twenty-one prominent 19th Century Mormon women. One of the most unique aspects of the site is the analysis of the poster as a material culture item. Reeder illustrates the importance of writing history from objects and shows how using such items as primary sources provides a broader understanding of the past. Describing both the text and the illustrations, Reeder states:
Crocheron included several religious images in her work. The crown overhead, with the rays of light and the extended hands illustrates how these women considered themselves led by divine sources. Books of scripture and theology are included around many of the women, demonstrating their intelligence and knowledge of their church doctrine.
The image itself is quite wonderful, showing a woman giving a blessing to two people (children?). It appears that one of them is male and almost seems to evoke the idea of a matriarchal blessing as opposed to an administration to the sick. The scripture that wafts above them completes the image.
Have you seen any other artistic interpretations that are similar? What else strikes you about this drawing?
Congratulations to Jenny for such an interesting and innovative project!