The Holy Women Icons Project
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The classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy.
— bell hooks

 Holy Women Icons: Embodied Ecofeminism and the Arts

One Week Intensive Course on the Big Island of Hawai’i

Rev. Dr. Angela Yarber, Ph.D., Art and Religion

In most Western classrooms, students would have to take four separate courses to learn about the arts, spirituality, sustainability, and feminism. Taking cues from indigenous ways of knowing, grounded in the aloha ‘āina movement, the lines between these seemingly disparate areas blur because, in Hawaiian culture, the arts, spirituality, sustainability, and gender theories are mutually informative and inseparable. This land-based intensive course offers students the opportunity to engage theory with practice on the Big Island of Hawai’i.

Intersectional ecofeminist philosophy undergirds conversations about iconography, revolutionary holy women from history and mythology, ethics, and sustainability. Knowing, being, and doing merge with engaged pedagogy that values the mind, body, and heart as students read and discuss critical theory, participate in guided icon painting, honor the āina (land) by participating in planting, harvesting, and off-grid-sustainable living, research and create sustainable artistic practices functional for their home contexts, and examine the ethical virtues exuded by revolutionary women from history and myth. Each day includes a deep dive into the life, legend, and legacy of an historical, mythological, and archetypal woman as students examine the ethical virtue she promotes and how such virtue directly impacts both theory and praxis at specific places on the island.

Class Time

A one-week intensive course includes over 40 hours of in-person “classroom” time with the professor, which is equivalent to a 3-credit semester term course. There are additional readings and assignments before and after the course. This course would be ideal during January break or Spring break.

Housing, Travel, and Costs

The Holy Women Icons Project can host up to 12 people, though 10 is a preferred number of students so that there is additional separate space should a faculty member wish to attend. Lodging and 3 meals per day costs $1,500 per person. We recommend that schools help subsidize a portion of this cost for students. These costs are on top of whatever fee adjuncts are paid at respective institutions.

Pedagogical Approach

This land-based intensive class is grounded in the engaged theory of bell hooks, and structured in Parker Palmer’s knowing, being, and doing framework. The classroom’s radical space of possibility expands to encompass the orchard, garden, art studio, dinner table, an active volcano, tide pools, and those much-beloved seminar spaces of dialogue. Research, reading, painting, writing, discussion, cooking, planting, harvesting, and exploring Hawai’i are our various methods for learning, engaging the mind, body, and heart.


Hawai’i is not simply the location of the course, but the course’s methodology. As in most indigenous ways of knowing, humanity, spirituality, and art are inseparable from the land, so we learn on and as a part of the ‘āina of Big Island. Decolonizing knowledge, the strict boundaries between disciplines, and the classroom, students engage in knowing, being, and doing simultaneously.

 About the Holy Women Icons Project

The Holy Women Icons Project is a 501c3 non-profit seeking to empower marginalized women by telling the stories of revolutionary holy women through art, writing, and special events. Personal and collective liberation are the goals of our folk-feminist iconography, intersectional feminist writings, retreats and courses. Rev. Dr. Angela Yarber is HWIP’s Executive Director, and she holds a Ph.D. in Art and Religion, is author of seven books—four which were listed among Top LGBTQ Religion Books—and has been a Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and an adjunct professor of divinity. Dr. Elizabeth Lee is HWIP’s Administrative Director, and she holds a Ph.D. in Ethics and Social Theory, is author of one book, and has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and sustainability.


Syllabus, CVs, and teaching evaluations available upon request.