"Ahlborn’s Addiction Madonna, like the Dementia and Alzheimer’s Madonna in this series, takes its cue from the facial expressions in the original by Andrea Mantegna. The eyes of both Virgin and Child in Ahlborn’s version are slightly unfocused, indicating the ravages of alcohol and drug abuse on the minds and bodies of both adult addicts and their children. The Christ Child bears the pallor of a child born addicted, and on closer investigation the adorable button on his garment is revealed to be an OxyContin pill.
In his book the Broken Cord, Michael Dorris chronicles the ongoing heartbreak of raising a child with profound fetal alcohol syndrome – the aggression, learning disabilities, and other challenges that parents and caregivers of such children face.(7 )The tender gestures by which Ahlborn’s Addiction Madonna and her Child hold one another must be held in tension with awareness of the bitter gift transmitted to such children before they ever draw breath – love and abuse, however unintended and unconscious – each in their measure."
(7) Michael Dorris, 2e Broken Cord: A Family’s Ongoing Struggle with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (New York: Harper Collins, 1989).
~ Bobbi Dykema in “‘Hope, Presence, Dignity, and Pain: Mel Ahlborn's Modern Love: Intercess and Wait.’” ARTS Magazine, 2013. Link: academia.edu Link: societyarts.org
ABOUT BOBBI DYKEMA, PH.D. Bobbi Dykema is an independent scholar who has taught at Hamline University, Pacific School of Religion, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, the University of Washington Experimental College, and the Graduate Theological Union. Her 2010 dissertation, “Lucas Cranach the Elder, Martin Luther, and the Passional Christi und Antichristi: Propaganda and Prayer in an Early Lutheran Flugschrift,” received the Graduate Theological Union Outstanding Dissertation Award in 2008, and was supported by fellowships from the Deutsche Akademische Austausch Dienst and the Herzog August Bibliothek. Her most recent publication, “Preaching the Book of Creation: Memory and Moralization in Medieval Bestiaries,” appeared in the most recent issue of Peregrinations journal, and she has a chapter forthcoming in a book on methodologies specific to sacred and religious art.
ABOUT MEL AHLBORN A painter, sculptor and illuminator, Mel Ahlborn is a mid-career American artist. She brings symbols and texts from anthropology and history to work side by side with direct observation. For over 20 years, Mel Ahlborn’s Illumination Studio has served museums, film companies, academic institutions and private clients. During her career, Ahlborn has placed work throughout the United States and Great Britain with leading public and private institutions that include the Getty Center (Los Angeles), the Palace of the Legion of Honor (San Francisco), Washington National Cathedral (Washington DC), Grace Cathedral (San Francisco), the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), Halogen Networks (China Basin) and the British Library (London). She is a graduate of Tufts University.
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Oil on panel
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