Artist Shawna Khalily and the Strength of the Feminine

Posted February 4, 2014 by Marg Herder

Today, I want to share with you just one of many very powerful images created by artist Shawna Khalily.  I was introduced to Shawna’s work by the incomparable Troubadours of Divine Bliss, who will be performing at the EEWC-CFT 2014 Gathering.

To my eyes, Shawna’s hand-colored woodcut prints radiate a startling power and presence. Her work has helped raise my awareness of the feminine manifestation of God’s strength.

Mary And Elizabeth
Mary and Elizabeth – hand-colored woodblock print by Shawna Khalily
Shawna says, “Mary and Elizabeth is an image I found my favorite artist Kathe Kollwitz exploring several times over many years in her prints and drawings. The wordless knowledge of each other’s states and destinies upon first sight after a long time apart shed light on the women’s bond.
“On a visit together at Elizabeth’s home in the country each cousin knew the other carried in her womb what would become a very powerful child of God. Their subtle ways of Knowing said much to me about the ways women glean through feeling more than words, true meaning and faith.”

Strength is not just a masculine characteristic, though our culture has certainly often been dismissive of feminine strength.  Even I find myself thinking of the “strength of God” in strictly masculine terms.  But if you were to ask me to name the strongest people I have known in my life, the list would be mostly women.

I understand the strength of women to be a certain powerful and unflagging determination. It’s not the strength required to lift and throw a heavy object, but more like the strength required to hold that same heavy object aloft— for years.

That to me is Her strength, the strength of God.  It’s not the strength required to shock or kill, manipulate or destroy, but rather the strength required to contain Her creation and the Light of Love for millennia, despite our efforts to usurp and degrade the meaning of All That Is.

Shawna Khalily lives and works in Louisville, Kentucky.  Her studio is called Gallery ExVoto.  Ex-voto means a work of art as a sacred gift or offering, literally “of a vow.”

To close, I’d like to share some of Shawna’s words.

“We now live in a male-dominated, fear driven, rapidly transforming planet. In this stage of human development there is a real opportunity to change the way we think about and experience our world and the stories we tell ourselves and each other about it. It is critical that the voices of creative women are heard clearly in this time. Recovering our truest identity as selves and as a species in a socially, culturally and cosmically tumultuous era requires all free minds to tell their stories and to create new mythologies that resonate with changing times and mores even as they challenge brittle, fixed concepts of what it means to be human.”

View Shawna Khalily’s work on February 28, 2014 at the 1305 Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio (1305 Main Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202).  She will be exhibiting at The Green Building in Louisville, Kentucky, later this Spring.

Lē Weaver identifies as a non-binary writer, musician, and feminist spiritual seeker. Their work draws attention to: the ongoing trauma experienced by women and LGBTQIA people in this “Christian” society; Christ/Sophia’s desire that each of us move deeper into our own practice of non-violence; and the desperate need to move away from an androcentric conception of God.


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