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Celeste's picture

In my home, we have a book of Joseph Stella paintings that my dad keeps in the basement.  One of my favorite things to do as a little girl was to sneak down and examine the many pages, filled with the variety of works Stella completed in his lifetime.  My favorite was always my avatar.  It was mesmerizing for me to look at. I loved the placid expression on Mary's face, and the way all the colors of the fruit and flowers seemed to tie into her body and facial language.  When I attended weekly Catechism, I imagined her in the same way as I imagined Disney princesses. As this godly, "chosen" human, she formed one of my first images of the female identity--the creator, the provider of all that is good and holy in this world.  Although I never was terribly religious, and wasn't capable of fully comprehending Mary as the Christian figure of divine femininity, I connected with the natural, lush beauty that she portrays in the painting.  I identify as cisgendered and queer.  In reflection, I realize that the allure of Mary's presentation intiated the beginning of my fascination with women on a sexual and spiritual level.  Through this, I could see that the woman is a beautiful and essential part of nature, and that as a self-identifying girl, I was part of that.