A poem by Judy Brow, American. 2015. Friend.
Adam and Eve
Denizens of Eden
Drift from vale to glen
Soothed by sweet zephyrs
They lounge in verdant meadows
Soporific and indolent
Their souls dormant
They drift through time
A fallow pair
The Temptation of Eve, Giselbertus, originally at Autun Cathedral, Normandy, c.1130 CE
Sixth day afterthought
Warned but not coached
Chase supple stranger
Winded and euphoric
They come to rest
Beneath red-globed tree
After The Temptation of Eve, Giselbertus, originally at Autun Cathedral, Normandy, France c.1130 CE.
Monopoint needlework of wool on cotton scrim made in 2008 by the owner of this blog.
New playmate beckons
Seduces with Siren’s whisper
Presents a scarlet apple
Charms with hooded eyes
Strokes Eve’s hand
She sighs with joy
Takes his mortal gift
Inhales the fresh scent
Bites into firm flesh
Adam and Little Eve, 1921, watercolour and printing ink on paper mounted on cardboard. Paul Klee, 1879-1940, Swiss. Metropolitan Museum, New York
Sinless she shares with Adam
Together they savor sweet purity
Then jointly surrender
Their naïve euphoria
The Proverbial Worm; mixed fibers and laser-cut acrylics. Made by Ed Bing Lee now in his 80’s, lives in the eastern United States. Snyderman Gallery, Philadelphia.
Rages at stolen knowledge
Furious he wields his staff
Flails infant-soft skin
Flings too inquisitive beings
From Elysian womb
The image is after a wall painting of Eve in the Church of Mary in Qorqor, Tigre, Ethiopia. The feet vary from the wall image, as do the colours, as do the sample stitches surrounding the image.
Monopoint needlework of wool on cotton scrim made by this blog’s author.1992-1996.
Gendered and guilty
Unclad and chilled
Our first humans cower
Shiver in dawn’s light
Behold life’s paradoxes
Marvel at heart’s duality
Learn to speak
Cling sinfully together
Bring forth offspring
Fated to forever mourn
Humanity’s lost innocence.
Adam and Eve, 1968, woodcut; Helen Siegl, 1924-2009, American born Austria. The Woodmere Museum, Philadelphia
Vignette, and detail, 2003, acrylic on fiberglass. Kerry James Marshall, born 1959. Shown at a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the winter of 2016.
Adam and Eve, c. 1942, oil on wood. Francis Picabia, 1879-1972, French. Private collection on exhbit at MOMA in the winter of 2016
Expulsion, 1955, oil on canvas. Nora Speyer, American born 1922. On display at the Woodmere Museum, Philadelphia in 2016/2017
I vary from my friend’s view of the Adam and Eve story.
The story of Adam and Eve has bothered me since I understood stories. For twenty-five years I created three large Adam-and-Eve needleworks to remove the bother stitch by stitch and think my way through to something else.
What I say here is not original but it does not have the sway of the story of Adam and Eve. Yet.
Temptation/Expulsion made of knotted linen, waxed linen, hemp and synthetic ribbon; made by Ed Bing Lee now in his 80’s and living in the Eastern US. 2012. Snyderman Gallery, Philadelphia.
God created Adam. Later, God created Eve from a rib of Adam. By God’s design, the two would live, without troubles or death, in paradise.
Only one condition: they were not to eat the fruit of a specific tree which would allow them to know good from evil.
Adam and Eve from a Spanish illuminated manuscript, the Escorial Beatus; c.950 CE; Spain.
Monopoint needlework made of wool on cotton scrim by the author of this blog. 1986-1991.
The serpent tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. She persuaded Adam. They became aware of the conditions in which they were living: in a paradisical garden, naked, subordinate. They were expelled to toil, pain and the knowledge that they and their progeny will die.
Detail of Adam and Eve from a Spanish illuminated manuscript, the Escorial Beatus; c.950 CE; Spain.
Monopoint needlework made of wool in cotton scrim by this blog’s author.1986-1991.
This is a wicked myth of origin. Do other cultures have such nasty myths of origin? I would be surprised.
This myth has, of course, been used as the meaning for the human life, suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Life has no meaning. It just is. With the consequence that I have not been able to accept this elaboration either.
This myth has seeped into our consciousness and consciences. Paintings, stained glass, sculptures, philosophies, laws, stories, embedded views of our minds by the million.
It has justified the subordination of women.
And made the (female) human body a vehicle of shame and pain.
Adam and Eve and the Serpent from the west façade of Notre Dame, Paris. 13th and 14th centuries CE. Even the serpent is a woman (thought to be Lilith).
This myth is encoded – to this day – in the law of countries with a Judaeo-Christian heritage such that, for example, a North American Supreme Court is still hearing arguments about abortion because women are, essentially, just a brainless rib.
Wall painting of Adam and Eve, Church of Abreha wa Atsbeha, Tigre, Ethiopia. After the 17th century CE.
It introduced and sustains a rigid schema of dualities: heaven/hell; good/bad; humans/animals; men/women; body/soul; gay/straight.
This truncation short-circuits the continua and occludes the ambiguities and contradictions which are our reality. It encourages war against the ‘not us’. And discourages social and economic justice for the ‘not us’.
Detail after The Temptation of Eve, Giselbertus, originally at Autun Cathedral, Normandy, France c.1130 CE.
Monopoint needlework made of wool on cotton scrim in 2008 by the owner of this blog.
With a gift of apples from Sharyn and the late Jean Augustson from their farm in Finger Lakes, NY. 2012.
It links the specific evolutionary achievement of our species – consciousness – to suffering for which we need solace; and sin from which we need salvation; and knowledge of death whose salve is the promise of resurrection.
It does not protect the earth which it views as the opposite of the Eden from which Adam and Eve were expelled.
And, of course, this myth does not comport with our science.
Biological evolution has our species evolving over a period of more than 4 million years. Mitochondrial DNA has not been shown to derive from a male rib.
There is sin because we have an evolved consciousness which knows good from evil, and all the grey areas which we like to play with. But original sin which we inherit?
As to life everlasting: we are stardust and that is everlasting. And this obtains because life feeds on life. Without which there would be no life. That is everlasting life.
As to the snake, it is a fine example of a creature which renews itself by shedding its skin. Because we must be born again. Nor is this an original thought with me.
So I thought and stitched and read.
The featured image is a detail after a wall painting of Eve in the Church of Mary in Qorqor, Tigre, Ethiopia. The feet vary from the wall image, as do the colours and the sample stitches in the border of the needlework.
Monopoint needlework of wool on cotton scrim made by the author of this blog.