It is quite possible in my mind that spirit sees us. Perhaps it is our ancestors or even family members. Hindus believe in past lives, people see their grandmother at the foot of the bed when death approaches. Painting so many images of Jesus for 28 years has prompted me to imagine Christ Sees Us? if we look. Image has been central to all religions, its membership needs color shape and form to reflect on. Contemporary Christianity is seeking wider audience in an expanded sense of how we see spirit and it is more inclusive.
There exists many ways of expressing one’s belief. Looking at the face of Christ for long periods of time makes me think Christ Sees Us? if we look.. Being seen pushes the edges of traditional iconography. How many ways are there to say: the power of love is everywhere.
We use language to communicate, as well as physical touch. I have seen the Lords prayer said in sign language and it is absolutely moving and expressive without a sound. I have seen hand mudras used by Persian dancers and tai chi hands moving in space which are soul-stirring and animated. This all made me realize that Christ consciousness given at Pentecost is not necessarily expressed in word or sound but rather in tiny movements.
Spirit is at the center of all that exists, no matter what location or context. The language series highlights the idea of Christ seeing us from the center. Astrology, numerology, science and the cosmos, are all maintained and sustained by the same force. Humanity has plenty of room for new visual reminders of who we are and how we live and move and have our being in the mind of God. As we move into a new age of consciousness, we are each going to have to ask and answer who is living in our center and what is it that surrounds us. I could have continued the series with Buddha at the center or any of the Hindu gods. Instead I further explored the theme through the Last Supper.
Last Supper with One Another
This collection of Last Supper icons share several characteristics found in the original painted by Andrev Rublev. Twelve people sit in a harmonious circle, the scratchy lines of pattern on the table allude to conversation and shared ideas. The white oval table is liken to the host at Eucharist, they will all take common nourishment from it.
The African women priests and Buddha at the last Supper are two examples of pushing the boundaries within this tradition. My intuition overrides the tradition, telling me (at least with this series) that we can learn to live and eat together newly defining what is one family.
The Last Supper event is not only about Christians and Christ. It is ‘our’ meal of the day filled with crisis, turmoil, contradiction, and decision. At Table we find ourselves overwhelmed in need of new spiritual nourishment for what is coming. We may need to learn to eat together again. Fast food and the disintegration of family life as we have known it have made eating together a thing of the past. In spite of our failure to gather for food sharing and conversation, our human need to be seen has not evaporated. We want to experience God’s redeeming love for us and inside us, and it is my understanding we cannot do it alone but only through communion.
These two collections only opened the door for me. The spirit of God is greater than any of us can imagine. We are babies faced with discussing the idea of God with a scientist or great theologian. I became increasingly aware that there are commonalities between faiths and practices. We are diverse and wonderful creatures all looking for this ‘God’ in different ways.
Painting icons has been a refuge for me, a place to retreat connecting the mysterious force linking humanity with the divine. Sacred images from around the globe provoke us to wonder what the ancient artist was trying to say, and what kind of vision did they have. The earth pigments reminds me of humanity’s historical and molecular desire to document the divine.
For me, pushing around small particles of earth to create sacred images continues to be an extraordinary experience. Christ Sees Us? if we look at very brush stroke, every color choice, and every swirl of paint in the dish is mystery we see.
I have never been trained and schooled in the canons the Byzantine church or its beautiful iconography. I am self-taught, a rebel icon painter and an unorthodox one, but not without tremendous respect for tradition. I have come to think if you love God, Allah, Buddha, Elohim, Brahma, Jehovah, and The Dali Lama–you will love our planet. If you love our planet you will be open to all spiritual practices.
Iconography is a tradition without a ceiling. Religion is not meant to confine but rather to expand our understanding and lovingly accept our diversity.
Twenty years of playing in the dirt and asking God to help me find love has enabled me to realize exactly how spirit and image are linked. Every once in a while I touch with my brush what it is to be spiritual in those colored grains of eternity.