the co-authors

Just as the left and right hands work together, so do the co-authors of BLESSED ARE THESE HANDS. We have worked on this project for five years—bringing it from concept to reality. Collaborations, like partnerships in business, are often difficult, but this one was harmonious from its beginning.

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 On the other hand, Susan sees the photographic essay as an artistic historical document, a record of early 21st-century women’s values.

shared exhibitions and publications

  • 2008 - Three photographs from the collection appear in the 2008 appointment and desk calendar, We-Moon 08: Mending the Web (Mother Tongue Ink, Publisher).
  • 2007 - "Carol's Hands," one of photographs in the collections, is the theme photo for the Resurrection Issue of Trivia - Voice of Feminism online journal. Issue 5, February 2007
  • 2005 - Solo show: Blessed Are These Hands, Cal Poly Downtown Center Gallery, Pomona, CA. Fifty-nine photos with statements, released press information, presented a formal opening by invitation and a public opening, interviewed with a local newspaper and television station, and gave several on- and off-site lectures.

Susan (left) and Marvelle (right)

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) 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. 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.

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

about the participants

Read more about the women whose hands appear in BLESSED ARE THESE HANDS here.


fulfills a vow to honor women in a creative way - with portraits holding something that represents their deepest values.

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Blessed Are These Hands
by Susan Kullmann &
Marvelle Thompson
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