From early in the 1970’s the biblical text itself has dominated Bowden’s iconography. Her signature motif has been a mysteriously veiled Hebrew text which creates an overall pattern by condensing the writing with no spaces between words or lines. In some pieces the text itself forms the image. In others the text is embedded in the landscape within layers of subterranean strata, almost awaiting discovery. In many pieces the Hebrew text has been gold leafed and surfaced with an iridescent material which intensifies its sacred quality.
Pages from Bibles of various languages, dictionaries and musical scores are collaged to the paper's surface, then layers of Japanese rice papers or other richly textured paper are added. Most pieces contain sections of Hebrew text which is initially created as a collagraph, gilded, then finished with a final application of iridescent craypas to give added luminescence to the surface. Finally, hand written text is inscribed within the image.
Bowden’s most recent series is a sequence of multi-paneled encaustic paintings that give tribute to the glorious and beautiful altarpieces of the medieval church, reinterpreting them to scale in a fully contemporary form. Their luminosity and radiance recalls the power of the stunning testimony to faith that filled the churches and cathedrals in Europe. The glowing gold panels recall the many historical pieces from Grunewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece in Colmar, France to Rothko’s triptych in the Rothko Chapel in Houston, as each of these radiant interpretations echo the rich visual tradition of faith. Several cross forms are also part of this encaustic series.
More than any other source in Western history, the Scriptures have inspired musicians to compose literally thousands of sacred compositions. In this series copies of the masters’ facsimiles have been juxtaposed onto the picture, along with archaeological artifacts, images from art history, and Bowden’s own imaginary scoring.
Biblical Archaeology has strongly influenced Bowden’s work for many years. Her pieces evoke the dust and dirt of an archaeological dig, showing the strata of centuries. Many of her collagraphs include references to archaeological finds, tel sites, and specific artifacts, combining images, overlapping ideas thereby suggesting connection and continuity.
In the late 1990s Bowden launched a series of elegant gilded drawings of many important art historical crosses and altarpieces. Large painted crosses hung above the altar in Medieval churches and when the faithful went to the altar for communion, they literally under the cross. Each drawing is a delicate translation in line and gold, recreating specific historical works as ‘icons’ from the canon of Western Art.