"At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
“Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."
Anthony was born in a small village called Coma, in the middle of Egypt in 251 AD. When Anthony was about 18 years old his parents died and he was left alone with his younger sister. One morning at church he felt as though the Bible passage being read that day was a personal call to him to leave everything and follow Christ. Immediately after the service he went and gave his inherited 300 acres to the other villagers. All the rest of his possessions he sold, keeping a small amount for his sister and giving the rest to the poor.
But Satan tried to lead him away from his commitment by whispering to him the remembrance of his wealth, care for his sister, love of money and other pleasures of life. When Satan saw that he was too weak for Anthony’s resolution and determination, he attacked the young man disturbing him at night and harassing him during the day. Satan would suggest foul thoughts and Anthony would counter them with prayer.
Anthony was more eager than ever to serve God and to be like him. So by himself he set off into the desert and for nearly 20 years Anthony dwelt there, seldom seem by anyone. After 20 years, his acquaintances came and began to tear down the door of his shelter. Anthony, as from a shrine came forth initiated in the mysteries and filled with the Spirit of God.
People came from near and far to see Anthony and learn from him. God gave grace to Anthony as he spoke so that he consoled many that were sorrowful and exhorted all to prefer the love of Christ before all that is in the world. He persuaded many to embrace the solitary life and monks colonized the desert. Anthony died at the age of 105 and was buried in the desert.
Speakers, megaphones, mouthpieces coming from all sides pump messages into the ears of the figure in the print. The speakers are set in a red assemetical pattern. Possibly reminding the viewer of stained glass—the kind found in a church. It’s so easy for any message to take on the disguise of a righteous cause—good verses evil, freedom verses terrorism, democracy verses dictatorship.
The mother waits in expectation for the life in her to be born. She looks upward, her neck and face tilted back, her hand supporting her stomach, her knees slightly bent. She has a posture of expectancy, a posture of strength yet humility. There is no arrogance in the way she holds herself, but a gentle “yes.” A “yes” to the life growing in her; that she carries inside. There is pain in pregnancy for sure, but this print hopes to capture the mystery and joy of being the vessel in which new life is begun, developed and birthed.
To listen well, one has to put a hand over the mouth. Opinions and advice must be withheld unless asked for. The only speaking a listener should be concerned with is asking good questions. Also, to be attentive to another one must put a hand over the eyes. Judging is withheld. A person’s age, race, weight, hairstyle, or dress is of no real consequence. One can not listen well if the hearer is judging outward appearances. The hand near the ear is open—fingers spread apart. The inside palm of the hand is shown to indicate the willingness and vulnerability of the listener. The lines around the head indicate the buzz of conversation--
It’s so easy for each of us to become defensive. We hide because we are afraid, insecure and fragile. However, when we let Love penetrate us, we find the courage to put down our hand. To open up and become vulnerable instead of guarded. Love gives us space so that we can look at our faults—our short comings with gentle understanding rather than quick condemnation. Love gives us the freedom to make mistakes, to grow and learn from our experience. Grace gives us the ability to laugh. We can put down our hand and not take ourselves so seriously.
We all have many roles—some are given to us, others are worked for, and some are assumed. My sister assumed the new role of “mother” when she gave birth for the first time in the winter of 2001. Before that, she had been and was my parent’s daughter, as well as my older sister.
Although abstract, this print is a depiction of her. The torso is extremely elongated, while the circle of the womb and the circle of the mother’s face resemble each other. The whole shape of the mother figure resembles the male genitalia, so that all three persons of the family are represented here-- the mother, the father, and the child. The mother grabs her ankles in a celebrative dance. Her body nearly forms a circle, symbolizing life, from one generation to the next.
The figures in the print seem confined to an oppressive room, one where the walls curve in and the floor spins them around and around. There are no doors or windows in the room, no entrance or exit, no sense of direction. The figures all have their hands tied behind their backs. They are physically bound by the ties that hold their hands together and by the room itself. But even more so, they are bound psychologically, trapped in a maze of swirling thought and emotions. Unable to make sense of anything, unable to find any rest or comfort.
There are three chairs in the room. The chairs can symbolize many things. Perhaps, solace—a place to rest in the midst of restlessness. Perhaps they represent choices. Perhaps the figures are tormented by their fear of being stuck in a chair or decision that they can’t get out of and may later regret.
This piece won 3rd place at the Dordt College Alumni Show held in the campus center gallery in the winter of 2004.
The monks are wearing the robes that I observed them wear during their worship/prayer times. I’ve arranged them as I did to get at the orderly way in which they structure their day: communal living with prayer as their main vocation. They have no faces, because it wasn’t important to me to depict particular monks at the monastery. In this setting, the communal identity of the group supersedes the personal identity of any one particular person. Even though the monks seem active by their body posture, I surrounded them with darkness, hoping to convey the silence and mystery which surround their lives.
Luke 1:11-13/ Luke 1:18-19/ Luke 1:26-31
The Angel Gabriel, with a trumpet for a mouth comes with an announcement—to herald the birth of John the Baptist to the old priest Zachariah, and Jesus to Mary the young virgin. The Angel is so powerful and brilliant that they are shocked and afraid. Gabriel has come directly from the throne room of God and brings the power and glory of God with him. His eye is deeper, richer, more alive, and wild than both Zachariah and Mary’s eyes. Robed in majestic garments, Gabriel comes as a royal messenger to announce the saving work of God among a fragile and needy people. The “noise” the Angel brings is good news.
In the spring of 2002, Valley Springs Church in Roseville, California, approached me and a few other artists, asking us each to create a visual piece for their new coffee shop. The coffee shop was in the process of being finished and through a series of discussions had just been named “the underground cafe’.” Valley Springs Church wanted to acknowledge and remind others that in many parts of the world, because of religious persecution, followers of Jesus have been forced to take their worship “underground”— to meet, pray and fellowship together behind closed doors, in basements, and in living rooms with blinds drawn. This print is what I created for that specific space.