Art is born and takes hold wherever there is a timeless and insatiable longing for the spiritual. — Andrei Tarkovsky
We humans have an insatiable longing for the spiritual. We are body, mind, and spirit created to worship – to “give worth to” the God who created us. If we do not “give worth to” God, we will worship something or someone. The spiritual world is as real as the material world, and we long to apprehend it. This is where the artist comes in.
Federico Fellini, one of the most influential filmmakers of the 20th century, said, What is an artist? A provincial who finds himself somewhere between a physical reality and a metaphysical one. . . . It’s this in-between that I’m calling a province, this frontier country between the tangible world and the intangible one which is really the realm of the artist.
This province is my concern – to bring the seeming dichotomies of the visual world and the spiritual world together. Of course, I can only attempt to bring them together. It is the God/man who brought them together at a time and space event called the Incarnation. Here God became a man, Spirit became flesh, and The Word became image. This is the extravagant mystery — the earth-shaking event that brings meaning to physical reality and metaphysical reality. Christ, the God/man alone holds both realities together. (Col. 1:15ff)
My “way of seeing” is inspired by the incarnate Word of God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God, . . . and the Word made his dwelling among us (John 1). This double-edged sword of wonder – in all its terror and irresistible truth liberates my imagination as Francis Schaeffer says, to fly beyond the stars.
The above paragraphs represent my statement for a show called 18 Ways of Seeing: Selected BOLD LIFE Artists. Curator Rimas Zailskas, the publisher of Bold Life Magazine, has chosen 18 artists to show next month (March 21-May2) at the Upstairs Art Space in Tryon, NC. I have known and appreciated Rimas and Mary’s contribution to the arts of Western North Carolina so I am happy to be included in this show. (There is a review in the March issue of Bold Life).
Each artist submitted three pieces. My selections included my most recent work with oil and cold wax medium and a bit collaged elements in two of them. I will add a short statement with each so you can see not only my process but my “way of seeing.” (And in a later blog, I will review the show and the other “ways of seeing.”)
One Who Came On the Waters of Time 40 x 40 inches oil and cold wax on panel
Oh voyagers and seamen, this is your real destination…not farewell, but fare forward voyages. (T. S Eliot’s The Dry Salvages)
Seek the eternal in the present,
seek it in the past and the future,
link them with the trajectory of your course,
for you are,
you are the vessel. (Michael O’Brien’s Island of the World)
The title is also taken from Island of the World.
Cold wax mixed and oils are layered with my brush, a dough scraper, which makes random marks and smooth areas. In the first layer are the scribbled text of Psalm 19. Day to day pours forth speech and night to night reveals knowledge. I worked dark to light, beginning with a night sky over reds. Later I added the light values sculpting out the vessels in negative space. This painting is one of my Vessel Series.
This painting is from my Nets of God Series. I discovered images of World War II parachute test dummies on a site called Obsolete. They were haunting reminders of man’s broken condition. We are Parachute Dummies. But for the grace of God we can not fly.
I arranged photo copies like The Three Graces. The central image is surrounded by gold leaf glory; the other two are shadow-like photo transfers. Over these is a minimally drawn charcoal figure.
Beauty is not only a terrible thing, it is also a mysterious thing. There God and the Devil strive for mastery, and the battleground is the heart of men. Fyodor Dostoevesky
And finally The Last Battle from my Bending to Love Series.
The Last Battle / “Sorrow and Love Flow Mingled Down” 36 x 36 inches on canvas
I randomly attached a stamp commemorating Robert Motherwell’s painting Elegy to The Spanish Republic onto a canvas prepared with a wash of golden acrylic. Preparing for the battle I guess, because months later I was invited to paint during a forty-five minute music service at Biltmore Baptist Church. (Since this canvas was prepared it became a “speed-practice piece.) Ironically the dark circular shapes of the Motherwell stamp about war became similar repeated shapes in my painting about THE war in the heavenlies!
This crucifixion view is from the Father’s perspective. His Son’s thorn-crowned head is bowed in hesed (eternal, humble) love — the sacrifice that bruised the head of Satan, the fatal blow foretold in the beginning (Genesis 3:15). Revelation 12 also tells of this war in heaven when Satan was defeated and thrown down from heaven to the earth. And a loud voice in heaven said, “Now the salvation and power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of Christ has come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down … and they conquered him by the blood of the Lamb.