“I Am A Lily”

“I Am a Lily” stems from thoughts after giving birth to my son. I wanted to make a piece which recognized the gesture of creating life. In silversmithing, a ciborium is an object which embodies creation. Strange as it may seem, I am not Catholic, but a silversmith who makes objects that serve religious significance.

Historically, women silversmiths were forbidden to make religious objects, permitted only to make decorative and secular hollowware. My work involves indicating injustices in western culture in the context of adornment and gender. The word ciborium is from the water lily and has roots in Egyptian mythology. It connects life to death. The lily blooms out of the water, opens in the morning sun and closes at dusk. Being a flower, the water lily is connected to the feminine; this was of great significance to me. How can the ciborium, which is fashioned after a flower, resembles the shape of a women’s body, be controlled by male priests in the Catholic Church? The political implications of this are significant. The ultimate act of spiritual commitment, being reborn through the symbolic eating of Christ’s body has been appropriated and controlled by men.

The connection to the lily is evident as many historical ciboria are decorated with lily petals and leaves. The making of the object is a huge technical feat which includes many raised pieces that are soldered together and decorated. A challenging process, much like the process of having my child, raising many questions about my spiritual and feminist beliefs.

I have made these pieces, which are adorned with water lilies, for a woman priest. I want them to someday be in use and stand as objects that signify what it was truly intended to promote, the feminine involvement with the process of spiritual life.