“Where are all the women?”
The Holy Women Icons Project began in 2009 with this question. Confronted with a virtually all male sainthood in nearly every religious tradition, our founder and Executive Director, Rev. Dr. Angela Yarber furiously began painting women, giving traditional iconography a folk-feminist twist. By researching the lives of revolutionary women from history, myth, and scripture, Rev. Dr. Yarber captures the essence of each woman’s life, the poetic “cry of her heart,” in her icons. Stemming from a host of cultures, religious traditions, and historical periods, these Holy Women Icons lift up the often overlooked and untold lives, legends, and legacies of inspirational women.
Rev. Dr. Yarber has now painted over 70 icons, and they are displayed in homes and galleries all over the world! The stories of these holy women engaged audiences more fully with the award-winning 2014 book, Holy Women Icons, which accompanies each image with an essay about the woman portrayed. The publication of Holy Women Icons Contemplative Coloring Book in 2016 invited others in to the creative process. The lives, stories, and virtues of these women also provide inspirational fodder for empowering retreats and workshops. In 2017, the Holy Women Icons Project formed as a nonprofit to house the artwork, retreats, workshops, worship aids, and writing that had sprung from that original question: “Where are all the women?”
"The Cry of Her Heart"
The heart of each icon expands to cover the majority of the canvas, capturing the essence of each woman's life.
The Holy Women Icons Project is an intersectional ecofeminist organization. This means that we adhere to these core principles:
· Feminism is not just about women. At HWIP, we strive to acknowledge the ways in which injustices intersect and overlap. As an intersectional feminist organization, we fully support the work to end the unjust treatment of all marginalized groups: Women, people of color, immigrants and refugees, disabled and neurodiverse people, the LGBTQ community, indigenous peoples, the poor, and all people who are subject to violence, discrimination, and stereotyping.
· Feminism is not just about people. At HWIP, we strive to acknowledge the ways in which violent and hierarchical attitudes towards marginalized peoples shape similar violent and hierarchical attitudes towards animals and the earth. As an ecofeminist organization, we firmly believe that humans are not inherently superior to the other life forms on our planet, and we fully support the work to curtail the careless destruction of plants and animals.
· Feminism is about uncovering the attitudes and eliminating the behaviors that reinforce unjust and violent hierarchical systems. As an intersectional ecofeminist organization, the Holy Women Icons Project seeks to work for a world in which all life and lives can flourish.
Hawai’i Island Retreat
The Holy Women Icons Project is excited about building a small retreat center on the Big Island of Hawai’i! Our founders are a White couple, and we are acutely aware of the history and present reality of colonialism here and the ways in which this history continues to marginalize and stereotype the Hawaiian people. We remain hopeful that the mere presence of White people in Hawai’i is not in itself always already colonizing, but we are aware of this as a possibility and are prepared to handle the consequences if we discover it to be the case. In these beginning phases of our project, HWIP is taking steps to listen and learn. Engaging the work of indigenous feminists who remind us of the strategic erasure, exoticization, and colonization of Hawaiian bodies and lives, we continue to research and honor the rich cultural and spiritual history of Hawai'i as we endeavor to create, sustain, and empower in a way that truly respects the aina.
About Angela and Elizabeth
Angela and Elizabeth are the founders of the Holy Women Icons Project. After traveling full-time in a camper for over a year with their toddler, they are now creating the HWIP Retreat Center on Hawai'i Island.
Rev. Dr. Angela Yarber is the Founder and Executive Director of the Holy Women Icons Project. She holds a Ph.D. in Art and Religion and is author of seven books that address the intersections among gender/sexuality, religion/spirituality, and the arts. An ordained, queer clergywoman, she served local churches for fourteen years, and she has taught graduate and undergraduate students since 2006. After a decade as a professional dancer, she now finds creative fulfillment and spiritual expression by fusing painting, writing, and embodiment through the Holy Women Icons Project.
Dr. Elizabeth Lee is the Administrative Director of the Holy Women Icons Project. She holds a Ph.D. in Ethics and Social Theory and is a certified Health Coach. The author of one book, Dr. Lee taught ethics, philosophy, and religion for several years.
Riah is their child. Riah enjoys exploring, playing outside, reading, eating cucumbers, and waking up entirely too early.