O Rubor Sanguinis

O rubor sanguinis
antiphon to St. Ursula
O rubor sanguinis,
qui de excelso illo fluxisti,
quo Divinitas tetigit,
tu flos es,
quem hiems de flatu serpentis
numquam laesit.
Hildegard von Bingen
A Statement

This series of paintings came about through experiment with coloring the backgrounds of the seed series. However, the formal element of the red opaque matte pigment revealed a not completely conscious interpretation very much related to profound changes in my physical and emotional cycles.

As a member of a women's choir dedicated to performing medieval repetoire, I am constantly learning works by Hildegard von Bingen. One of the recurring images in her work is O Rubor Sanguinis, the river of blood. This river sometimes appears as the blood flowing from Christ's death wound, and sometimes as the Rhine in homage to the martyrdom of St. Ursula and her companions, the 11,000 virgins whose blood flowed in the river. Moreover, for Hildegard, moisture and high contrast melody are metaphors for life, for salvation. It is difficult for me to separate the power of these images as the result of religious vision from the fact that Hildegard's visions began during her forties, when many of us physically experience rivers of blood. At a time when my reproductive system altered my capacity for procreation, I became very much aware of the multiplicity of possible children, possible lives which would not mature. Since we have our ovae from birth, which cycle each month during menses, which are left? Amazed at the variety and potentiality, I am grateful for the one who has matured and the environment which has nurtured him.

Alice Dubiel October 1999

Click on the thumbnails for a larger image.