The Ultimate Artist
I felt I was going to be blessed when I was drawn to attend the ECW Spring Dinner as the subject matter intrigued me: “Deep Calls to Deep: God at Work Through Visual Art.” The guest speaker, the Rev. Kate Norris, aimed to show how our missionary God could be approaching us through visual art, especially in times of great pain.
She presented two diverse artists in her deliberation: Leo Twiggs, a contemporary artist here in South Carolina, and the modern artist Picasso. Both artists express pain and suffering in their works.
Leo Twiggs did nine paintings on batik––one for each of the nine victims of the Mother Emanuel church shooting here in Charleston. One of the paintings was significantly moving to me as he depicted the Mother Emanuel Church with targets at the base that rise up to crosses in reaching the spire of the church. His painting showed how, when going through unimaginable pain, we can be raised up with hope. His expressed grief brought beauty out of tribulation and glory to God. It reminded me of Isaiah 61:3: “And provide for those who grieve in Zion––to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
Picasso took a different avenue in his painting “Guernica,” which is a depiction of the aftermath of the aerial bombing on the town of Guernica in Spain on April 26, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War. It is a disturbing picture of evil, war, and pain. The figures are in agony, and Picasso seems to depict them in a contorted, otherworldly way. But Norris noted that in Picasso’s painting of this horrific scene––in spite of being an unbeliever––he does place windows in the setting that show there is light and hope in all circumstances.
The evening was an opportunity to marvel at the diversity displayed in God’s creation and in our lives and find stimulation in the freedom of expression that is open to us. It struck me that our God is the ultimate artist and is able to satisfy all our creative urges, whether with canvas, camera lens, prayer, or voice, through teaching, gardening, or lending a helping hand; we strive to reveal his glory. I came away rejoicing and thankful for those who endeavor in expressing his majesty and those who enlighten us to the frailties of mankind in order to enlighten us on life’s journey.
Top picture (L-R): Spring Dinner Co-Chair Patty Jones, ECW President Anne Chastain, Guest Speaker The Rev. Kate Norris, and Spring Dinner Co-Chair Sarah Stuhr
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