Sacred Lineage of Birth in Mara Berendt Friedman’s “Trinity”


Trinity, acrylic on canvas (Copyright 1997, Mara Berendt Friedman. All Rights Reserved).

Mara Berendt Friedman’s Trinity painting depicts the sacred lineage of creation that exists between the three figures of grandmother-mother-child.   Like a Matryoshka doll, the figures unfold one from the other, with the child at the center and held in mother’s arms.  An almond shaped opening encompasses the three, spreading like a mandorla to enclose the figures while also providing a window into the sacredness of their unity. Formally speaking, this same opening reminds the viewer of the vulva and birth path as they expand and brings forth new life.  Pregnant women can use this painting in the visualization of birth, connecting themselves to the long lineage of birthing women who came before them.

In our correspondence, Mara has explained the significance of Trinity, including the mystical way in which the painting came to life after she had painted it.

When I placed the final brushstroke to the canvas, I knew it was complete because the painting began to ‘breathe’… I know this sounds crazy, but it’s true!  The sensation of ‘Trinity’ alive with breath continued for several days… even my sister Karen noticed it.

This artwork was created in 1997 when I was 42 years of age. The entire time I was working on/evolving this painting, in my mind I called it ‘Trinity’. I was struggling inside because I sensed that using the title ‘Trinity’ for an image that depicts grandmother, mother and daughter within a vesica pisces-yoni-vagina could be possibly a little dangerous. Why would I feel that? My answer is that I carry (as do all women) an ancestral memory of the thousands of women who have died for telling the truth. Trinity is a term usually used for Father-Son-Holy Ghost and I was facing some deep fears of being too controversial and thus being vulnerable. Thru a very magical occurance, it was made clear to me that YES! I must call the work Trinity. This painting marks both an evolution in my career as an artist, as well as an evolution of my personal courage and ability to speak/express my truth.

Mara has also written a poem and a collection of thoughts to accompany the painting on her website:

deep, deep…within the within

that is where you will find Her

vast, vast…no beginning, no end

She is mother-daughter-grandmother

(poem © 1997 Mara)

I consider this work to be one of my most important paintings.  In this image I was able to synthesize so may ideas, concepts and symbols into a cohesive whole.  There was such a feeling of completion as I made my final brush stroke, that I even thought to myself, “Perhaps this is my last painting?”  Of course, and thankfully, that was not the case!

Mara Berendt Friedman lives and works in Oregon.  Her paintings, which the artist describe as a celebration of the Feminine in Spirit, have been influenced by a wide variety of artwork, cultural productions, and teachings, including those of the art of O’Keeffe and Chagall; Tibetan, Hindu, Aboriginal, African and Native American Art; mystical Sufi poetry, and Buddhist teachings.

The artist may be contacted through her website and via email at stream[at]