I had an uncommon and serendipitous experience at my neighborhood bar a few weekends ago: I talked religion and pop culture with a stranger as we sipped beers and tried to ignore bad 90's rap blasting from the speakers.
The topic of conversation? The powerful image of the Virgin Mary. Oft-featured in ironic, reverent, fucked-up and inspired ways, the Virgin Mary is instantly visually recognizable. My new drinking companion put it best when he said that no matter what an artist does to her--tie her up, cut her or place roses at her feet -- her presence makes the image a powerful statement that goes beyond merely "religious."
I've been seeing some beautiful, unusual Virgin Mary art on Etsy, the online marketplace of handmade goodies designed by talented folks who often work out of their bedrooms and home offices.
I'm particularly in love with this image from Illustrated Ink, a bevy of tattoo goodness with a focus on Dia De Los Muertos designs.
Some of my other favorite shops to find Virgin Mary jewelry and iconography include Sweetheart Sinner (whose bold pendants also feature Edgar Allen Poe and David Bowie) and Jammerdesignz, who paint designs on each image with teeny-tiny brushes.