Two 2011 Symposia–East & Midwest!

We are delighted to announce that in 2011, for the first time we will hold two symposia.  The response to our calls for proposals has been strong in both regions, indicating that there is excellent work being done, in all parts of the country, to explore all aspects of the feminine divine.

UPDATE:  East Coast Symposium March 12-13 2011 Philadelphia

Our first East Coast symposium brought together women (and yes, a few men) from as far away as Canada and Washington State, for a weekend of panels, films, song and conversation.  There were 55 in attendance, in spite of some challenges from weather.

Our keynote speaker was Dr. Miranda Shaw of the University of Richmond, the author of Buddhist Goddesses of India and Passionate Enlightenment: Women in Tantric Buddhism. ASWM board member Joan Cichon has written at article on Miranda’s colorful and inspiring presentation, which presented vivid descriptions of women’s rituals and provided a corrective for media distortions of the role of the Royal Kumari, young girls selected to embody the Nepalese goddess.


Following the keynote presentation, there were excellent panels on African goddesses and cosmology,  goddesses and priestesses in Judaism, the myth and reality of women’s descent experiences, and the use of myth in visual arts and poetry.  Layne Redmond accepted the first Brigit Award and provided the group with a stunning visual exploration of bee and omphalos symbolism in the context of ritual frame drumming.  Evening performances included the Philadelphia chorus “She Who,” singing a version of Judy Grahn’s poem by the same name, and Serpentessa, the 21st Century snake priestess, who danced with her two beautiful, sensual boa constrictors.  Those of us who were there for the weekend came away with new contacts, new resources, and a renewed appreciation for the contributions of other scholars and artists who pursue their work with passion.


Our Midwest Symposium with the theme Art and Inspired Scholarship is scheduled for Thurs. May 19, 2011,  in Madison, Wisconsin.

We have created a “home page” for this event, with links for hotel room reservations and conference registration.

The keynote speaker at this event is Mary B. Kelly, textile expert and artist, who will present a 7:30 p.m. lecture entitled Goddess. Women. Cloth: Inspired Ritual Textiles from Around the World. This evening lecture will feature slides and hands-on experience with the textiles.

Embroidered Goddess, Norway

Within folk cultures across the world, women make textiles, inspired by goddesses, then use them in rituals to honor their deities, contact spirits or protect their families and communities.

In some areas these traditions continue today. This presentation features an overview of the textiles in the context of history, rituals and religious beliefs. Kelly explores cultures worldwide: Siberia, China and the Far East, India, Central and South East Asia, Eastern, Northern and Central Europe, Greece and the Balkans, Africa and the Americas, sharing her extensive knowledge and research on local textile traditions.


Embroidered Goddess from Eastern Europe

Mary B. Kelly is Professor Emerita at Tompkins Cortland Community College, an affiliate of the State University of New York, and holds advanced degrees from Syracuse University and the Rhode Island School of Design. She has published numerous books and articles in the United States and abroad, notably in Folk Dress in Europe and Anatolia, ed. L. Welters (1999 ); Making and Using Ritual Cloth ( 2004 ); Goddess Embroideries of the Northlands ( 2009 ); Kaspaikka Muistiilina ( Memory Cloth); ed. L. Sappi (2010); and Goddesses in World Culture, ed. P. Monaghan (2010).

Kelly’s research has been supported by several Fulbright grants, and recent articles have appeared in such textile publications as Piecework, Needle Arts, Bunad, and Vesterheim. She served as guest curator of the exhibition “Sacred Symbols, Ceremonial Cloth” at the Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum in Decorah, IA (2009). She has lectured at the Smithsonian Institution and the Textile Museum, in Washington, DC, the Mingei Museum of Folk Art,The Czech and Slovak Museum, the Ukrainian Museum, and at Oslo University, Norway.

Kelly makes her home on Hilton Head Island, SC, where she teaches, exhibits and maintains a painting/weaving studio.

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Posted in Conferences and Symposia
6 comments on “Two 2011 Symposia–East & Midwest!
  1. ara says:

    Is it at all possible at this symposium that I display my many visual works of my honor of woman in digital art and cosmic paintings. I have contemporary thangkas that I have created for the same purpose as the buddhist ones, contemplation of spiritual principles through the thangka, as well as other themes. To whom might I submit a small portfolio at ASWM or the University of PA or where? They were created in worship of Kundalini, Tara, Kwan Yin and more, the same beautiful radiant image of woman appearing from the beginning of time. Thank you much.

    • gscholars says:

      Hi Ara,
      Thanks for your interest in ASWM. The symposium in Philadelphia will have a panel for visual artists. If you would like to submit a proposal for that panel and a sample of your work, we would be happy to consider you for the panel. (You may send them to me).
      We are not attached to the U of PA; just having our museum tour there.

  2. Caron Cadle says:

    I regret that I’ll be unable to come to either of the symposia as I have to be here in Florida on Mar 14 (can’t get back fast enough from Philly) and will be out of the country for most of May! Drat! It’s especially trying to miss Mary Kelly, who is utterly brilliant and whom I haven’t seen since she graced the wonderful trip to Romania organized by the Textile Museum in 2003!

    • gscholars says:

      Hi Caron,
      We will certainly miss you at our events this year. You always have much to contribute to conversations about goddess related scholarship. We hope to have abstracts from presentations available on the member-only web site by summer. And–I hope you will put May 11-14, 2012 on your calendar for next year’s national conference in Oakland, CA!

  3. Sarah says:

    Just wondering when the last panels will be. It’s unlikely I will be able to present, since I have another obligation, but since I’m dying to go to this, I thought I’d check and see. Great topic!

    • gscholars says:

      Hi Sarah,
      I think your question refers to the Midwest Symposium–which starts at 9 am, with the last panels beginning at 3:30 or 4. We don’t have a complete schedule yet because proposals are still coming in! Hope you will be able to come.

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