Carol Mothner’s fascination with Madonnas, armor and flowers began in her childhood in Brooklyn, New York. “I loved dolls when I was little,” she says. “My apartment building was mostly Jewish, but my friend Barbara and her family was Catholic. She would invite me to go to church with her and there I saw the most beautiful Madonnas— they were gorgeous dolls.”
After moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico, she began to acquire antique Spanish Madonnas, one of which is always standing in front of her when she paints in her studio.
When she went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, she “always went straight for the armor room. The armor had wonderful reflections and I’ve always loved reflections. Even then,” she continues, “I knew that little kids needed protection.”
Mothner says, “When I was old enough to walk that far I went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It was incredible and it comforted me. When I was in my teens, I would sit for hours in the Japanese Garden and paint.”
After 9/11, she felt her Madonna needed protection. She wrote the names of the victims on pieces of paper that she wrapped around the sculpture.
She began to clothe her Madonnas in armor that she carefully made while sitting with her husband,
artist Daniel Morper, before his death from Alzheimer’s.
She wrote recently about the 2016 election: “‘Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights’ was part of a speech by Hillary Clinton in 1995 in Beijing…In 2016 it wasn’t a woman’s right to become President of the United States. This is what got me started on painting my Madonnas in armor at times with a sword, and at other times, I pulled her apart in anger.”
She says, “As I painted, I kept looking out at the garden. I feel joy in the garden, especially when I plant a tomato seed and later have a huge plant with delicious tomatoes.” She knew she couldn’t continue with the anger she expressed in her armored Madonnas, so she returned to an earlier interest, painting the flowers in her garden.
Her latest paintings of Madonnas and flowers will be shown at Santa Fe-based Nüart Gallery from September 7 through 23.
1Botanical Mélange, acrylic, 5 x 5"2Armor, Sword and Anger, acrylic, 16 x 16"3Things Fall Apart (Blue), egg tempera, 17 x 17"4After Hillary’s Loss, acrylic, 16 x 16"