Blessed Are These Hands: A beautiful new book of art and inspiration

The book is “Blessed Are These Hands: an exploration and celebration of women’s values“. Our cousin is one of the co-authors. The project was begun in 2003, and is being published just this week. You can find a copy: here.

Over one hundred women lent their hands to this project. Women’s hands are photographed holding an object they value. Each woman also added a piece of writing about the object she held.

Co-author Marvelle Thompson views BLESSED ARE THESE HANDS as the sacred and the intangible made concrete and comprehendible. Co-author Susan Kullman sees the photographic essay as an artistic historical document, a record of early 21st-century women’s values.

There is a wonderful web-site, with a slideshow of many of the photographs at

In the authors’ thank-you to participants, they write:

As some of you know, this project has been a long time coming…. Along the way, we’ve learned much about women’s values and spirituality, photography and photo editing, and book publishing. Each was an eye-opener in its own way! We began with film cameras and transitioned into the digital image era with gratitude. Every stage took longer than anticipated. We felt the delays kept us on the “right” course (most of the time). When doubt crept in, magick happened and strengthen our perseverance. We were surprised that publishing proved the most challenging aspect of the project and are grateful for the editorial guidance that our favorite photographer/author Joyce Tenneson and others provided. They helped us make some difficult decisions…

Susan and Marvelle

Background: Biography of the authors

marvelle thompson

Creating art brings balance to Marvelle’s life. BLESSED ARE THESE HANDS represents the fulfillment of a vow she announced to a circle of women friends on an autumn equinox: she promised to capture creatively the feminine face of the Holy. This book pays homage to women whose hands have embraced life and whose lives have battled for justice.

Marvelle (right in photo above) has been drawing since she could first hold a pencil. She creates art from many mediums: pencil, ink, watercolor, paper, photos, gourds, beads, and fabrics. Influenced by the beauty and magic in nature’s cycles, she often uses nature’s objects in her art. She looks for ways to show the feminine face of the Divine. Marvelle teaches adults and children alike, and vigorously advocates for including the visual and performing arts in any learning environment.

Marvelle is a born-and-bred Californian. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in fine arts from California State University at San Bernardino and a Master’s Degree in education from Azusa Pacific University. In 2007, she retired after 32 years as a public school teacher.


* 2006 – “Forged in Her Fire” (mixed media) and “Tree Wisdom” (pen and watercolor) at the Feminine Wisdom exhibition, Cal Poly Downtown Center Gallery; presented a formal public opening and participated in a panel discussion on the exhibition.


susan kullmann

BLESSED ARE THESE HANDS allows Susan to blend her appreciation of photography and light with her ardent interest in the historical and contemporary meaning of women’s lives.

Susan (left) is a Professional member of Women in Photography International. Her family has always valued photographs; in fact, family photos from the 19th century line her hallways. She first started shooting with a Brownie camera in elementary school. She’s gone through many cameras since.

Susan gives people the confidence and knowledge they need to make the leap into the world of modern technology. She designs and delivers workshops in using computer software, including digital image editing with PhotoShop. At California State Polytechnic University Pomona, Susan developed an extensive academic technology support program for faculty. She also has taught history and women’s studies there, and at California State University at Long Beach. She is a member of the Organization of American Historians and the Western Association of Women Historians.

Susan is a born-and-bred New Yorker. She earned her Bachelor’s and Masters degrees from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and a doctorate in history from Carnegie Mellon University. Her dissertation focused on women’s role in the quest for justice in United States history.

Selected exhibitions / publications:

* 2009 – “102 Years and Looking Forward” – one of 12 section photos, and “Memory Triptych” detail, published in the 2009 appointment and desk calendar,We’Moon ’09: At the Crossroads (Mother Tongue Ink, publisher).
* 2006 – “Memory” (mixed media collage) at the Feminine Wisdom exhibition, Cal Poly Downtown Center Gallery; presented a formal public opening and participated in a panel discussion on the exhibition.

Online publications:

* Legal Contender…. Victoria C. Woodhull, First Woman to Run for President, a brief historical sketch.
* Professional Development for Online Instruction – One Size does not Fit All, best and bad practices for helping college faculty to teach effectively and joyfully with instructional technology.
* Susan Kullman’s personal home page: here.

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