Archive for Mount Holyoke College

Hildegard of Bingen Sculpture

A couple of people have asked me to post about Hildegard of Bingen, 12th century German mystic and visionary. Today I’ll post about some of my artwork she has inspired; tomorrow I’ll write about Hildegard’s life & why it’s is so important to me.

About 20 years ago (Now that in itself is crazy!!) I made sculpture of Hildegard. I was recently looking for the documentation of it and it’s vanished. So, I’m going to describe it here.

The sculpture was of Hildegard undergoing a mystical ecstasy. She was standing naked, writhing in that sweet agony- somewhat akin to this etching detail.
Etching detail

I rigged a door in her stomach which when opened, played Hildegard’s music. Inside were stashed my Hildegard drawing series. But the door was locked with a padlock. I placed the key inside her womb. You had to reach up into her birth canal into the womb to get it.

So, I arranged a trap. I briefly attended Mount Holyoke College, women’s college. Probably a good school, but I was trained to be such an elitist at my high school (Crossroads) that I couldn’t interact with the other students. They hadn’t read Rimbaud, man was I a snot! Fortunately, I am nothing like that now. Also I wanted art school, but promised my Dad to get a liberal arts education. Anyway my trap:

I invited my Medieval Spirituality professor along with my class to view the sculpture. I asked him to open the sculpture. He accepted and found himself sticking his arm up to his elbow into Hildegard’s birth canal in front of a group giggling girls. He was beat red. It was a beautiful thing! Everyone was thinking about sex all the time, but no one ever said anything. The only men were the professors and it was kind of like turning the tables. When the stomach panel was finally unlocked and opened, the sound of the music was shocking. Music entered a charged space. Very dramatic, but also a lot of fun.

UPDATE: I want to say a little bit more about yesterday’s post. When I had that professor stick his hand up into Hildegard’s birth canal. It wasn’t meant as a sexual moment, although it obviously has those overtones. That professor was afraid & self conscious when he did it. He didn’t know what he would find and he knew he was being watched by his class.

Hildegard’s womb in the moment of a mystical ecstasy is charged with the Divine. It is the microcosm of the Divine womb, the source of all creative energy. Remember the mystical rule, as above so below. So I meant to evoke the terror that we feel when approaching God: the fear of the unknown and the fear of annihilation. Squatting down and reaching up into an unknown darkness, all the while feeling you are being watched and judged. To me that sounds a lot like entering into the mystical path.

Interpreting Hildegard #4 (c) Sybil Archibald
Interpreting Hildegarde # 4

Interpreting Hildegard #8 (c) Sybil Archibald


Interpreting Hildegard #8