Portfolio > Oil Paintings/Charcoal Drawings_Old Time Songs & Stories

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Mariam the Fiddler 2
Mariam the Fiddler 2
Charcoal on Paper
24" x 18"

This is my friend, fellow painter, and fellow painting faculty colleague Mariam Stephan, posing as a fiddler. I used this drawing as a study for one of the woman fiddlers in my painting "Banging and Sawing." The other fiddler in that painting is Mitch, who sat for my drawings "Oh My Gourd" and "Out of Her Gourd."

Historically, society considered women who played the banjo--and the fiddle--reprobates who should be shunned. Classical violin was acceptable for women to play in the 19thc. Into the mid 20thc., Upland Southerners still thought it was socially unacceptable for women to play the fiddle.

The fiddle has a long history of being associated with delinquency and reprobate behavior, especially because it was used to make music for dances. Popular dancing of Europe and America was considered evil, because the religiously uptight thought the dance moves were lewd. So by extension fiddling and banjoing were also considered unacceptable because it aided and abetted popular dancing. In the 18thc., 19thc., and the early 20thc. devout communities throughout America thought dancing was wicked and lascivious, promoting loose morals and idleness. (See the commentary for my painting "Turkey in the Straw" for more information about this). I have read time and again of people who "found religion," that the first thing they did to show that they had been "born again" was to give up banjoing, fiddling, dancing, and singing.