The Creative Capacity of Motherhood
Letter from Blair Piras
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Hello! My name is Blair and I am a Catholic artist devoted to serving the Church and her faithful. I work full time making paintings for churches and homes. My journey to fully embracing this life and devoting myself to the development of my artistic skills began by climbing over some obstacles, many of them that were self-made.
I want to share a snippet of this journey of overcoming self-doubt and embracing my role as an artist with you.
I also want to encourage other women to recognize in themselves their creative capacity, and explore how spiritual and physical motherhood reflect the role of the Creator in the deepest way.
A friend of mine paid me a visit one day several months ago while I was panting in my studio. In conversation she asked me, do you feel resistance to your work? She described an idea Jennifer Fulwiler writes about in her book One Beautiful Dream. In this book, Jennifer explains that each of us has a distinct talent, or gift, that we are called and drawn to use. She talks about the devil’s specific resistance to us discovering and persevering in using this gift. Especially when it involves creating.
As I listened, countless moments flooded my memory. I remembered the self-doubt that almost prevented me from applying to art school. I remembered comparing my work to other artists, and moments of hating imperfections I saw in my art.
I have always struggled with being overly self-critical. I hardly ever tried new things in front of people, and if I did, and I made a mistake, I was humiliated.
The devil does not want us to create in the way God calls us to because, when we do, we become more human and closer to the image of God. Of course he fights hardest to make sure we don’t discover our deepest desires and works to stop us from actualizing them. I think it is crucial to see this interior battle for what it is, so that we can work to properly combat it with prayer. While I was aware that my crippling doubts did not come from a place of peace, calling them what they are, helped me to overcome them. While not exclusively a problem for women, I have personally seen how this issue more extremely affects us. It is one I want to caution you to always be on guard against.
The work I do is for the Church. I create sacred art. With this comes a responsibility to the beautiful. If I am to work to convey the spiritual through the material, I must recognize what draws the human heart to wonder, and this is beauty. When I step back and look at who I am and what I am doing, I can recognize why the enemy would not want me to complete this work. Hearing testimonies from those who have felt God’s presence or received consolation from encountering my art has been a huge help to me, and motivated me to silence the voice inside that wants to stop me.
This drive comes from a love of neighbor, and wanting them to know God in a deeper way. If God wants to use me as an instrument, then who am I to say, I’m not worthy?
This past February I went on a solo silent retreat. In the quiet of the woods, I reflected on themes of motherhood and the role of the artist as an imitator of the Creator. God showed me how he created women beautiful, strong, and capable of heroic courage. I was led to read My Sisters the Saints, Heroines of Christ, and other texts focusing on the lives of female saints over the course of that weekend. Reading about virgin martyrs like St. Agnes and St. Lucy particularly inspired me. I felt God calling me to become the woman he created me to be.
During that retreat, I was one week pregnant. While very early into my pregnancy, I knew in my heart that I was a mother. In a special way God was showing me how my creativity in my life as an artist would be enhanced by my role as a mother.
He showed me how in fully becoming who he made me to be, I was able to show others the face of God through myself. We have to first experience the beauty of God and let it transform us before we can share this beauty with others. Women can nurture others in a special way, and I think one of the most healing ways is by creating beautiful things through our lives.
I just want to write to encourage you to not give up. Each of you was made with a capacity for creativity. When we exercise this capacity, in whatever way, we become more human. Do not listen to the doubts that hold you back. God desires for you to grow and bloom. This growth is both for you as well as for others. Turn to Our Lady and ask her to help you crush the head of Satan, to deny his lies, and believe instead the promises of Christ.
As women, we were all made to be mothers in a particular way, whether on a spiritual or biological level. This is the greatest expression of the creative capacity within us women.
Ask God to help you to marry your gifts and talents to this role as mother, and show you how he desires you to nurture the hearts of others by using and developing your unique gift from him!
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Get to know Blair
Full name: Blair Gordy Piras
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Educational background: Franciscan University of Steubenville for undergraduate degree in Humanities and Catholic Culture; Sacred Art School- Diploma in Sacred Painting
How does your Catholic faith affect the way you live your day-to-day life?
My faith helps guide how I order my life and what my goals and focuses are. Since I have dedicated my life to creating sacred art for the Church, my faith heavily enters the realm of work for me. I need therefore to study and understand the role of art in the everyday life of people, how they use it to pray, and how it can convey truths of the faith. As a sacred artist I look to tradition, scripture, and prayer to inform my work.
Has there been a particular teaching of the Church that has intimately transformed the way you see yourself and others? If so, please describe.
A combination of the Theology of the Body and the Church’s stance against contraception has greatly influenced my understanding of myself and others. Especially positive teachings about fertility and human sexuality through Natural Family Planning. I found answers about contemporary issues in the Church that were in keeping with the nature and dignity of the person where I saw that the world’s understanding led to brokenness and confusion.
Tell us about a woman who inspires you.
I am inspired by a woman who exudes peace. She is humble, funny, and open. She knows and loves God and others in a natural way. She sees the world through the lens of an artist, and embodies what it looks like to allow beauty to shape your person. She is a mother both biologically to six children and spiritually to many others.
Fill in the blank.
I feel most inspired when: I spend time in front of beautiful art, or when I spend time soaking in natural beauty outside.
My favorite part about my life right now is: being able to paint everyday.
The advice I would give to the millennial Catholic woman is: do not become as the world is. Do not be afraid to conform to the ways of God. Seeking a life of virtue will satisfy your soul much more than any other pursuit. Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions when you have them. The Church can handle them and most likely has through her rich intellectual and spiritual Saints.