Hey Jude

The subject of the piece below is not the Beatles’ song, but the Book of Jude, which has many similarities with 2 Peter. Both books denounce the false teachers who have infiltrated the church.

Hey Jude (2008) (17 1/4″ x 11″)
collage and acrylic on tin panel
The photographic reproduction looks out of focus since the piece was done on a mounted tin ceiling panel which has a raised design.

Babel and Pentacost — The Great Reversal

It has been often remarked by commentators on the Bible that the miracle on the Day of Pentacost (Acts 2), when people of all nations could understand the Apostles in their own language, is a sort of reversal of the  Tower of Babel story related in Genesis 11.  The assemblage below is an attempt to picture this contrast. The Genesis incident appears in the inside of the box and the events in Acts are shown inside the door.

The Great Reversal (2008) (13″ x 15 1/2″ x 8 1/2″)
assemblage in surveyor’s box
The Great Reversal (door)

Handling Disputes — Matthew 5:23-26 and I Corinthians 6:1-8

Between the similar passages Matthew 5:23-26 and I Corinthians 6:1-8, Christians are taught both the practical and theological reasons for settling their disputes within a church setting rather than resorting to the civil courts. I know from personal experience that this can be a very effective means of resolving problems that could have resulted in a rather messy, time-consuming and expensive legal procedure.

Suers (2005) (16″ x 20″)

The Seven Deadly Sins

This assemblage was constructed inside the remains of an antique vending machine (probably for magazines or newspapers). The one metallic wall was covered on the inside with an inspiration collage. The items in the collage were then duplicated in three dimensions using a found piece of pottery, a wooden foundry mold, an old player piano roll, and shards of polymer clay.  The seven characters inhabiting this barren land were molded out of polymer clay and represent the Seven Deadly Sins. See if you can identify them all. They are each in a prison of their own making.  As C. S. Lewis said, “The gates of hell are locked from the inside.”

Prisoners (2010) (12″ x 16″ x 10 3/8″ high)
front view
top view

Literary Inspirations

Years before settling in on biblical subjects for my art, I took other literary works for my inspiration. Two examples are shown below:

Tales from the Decameron, Fourth Day (1961) (20″ x 24″)
watercolor on canvas board
This piece was a technical challenge since watercolor is not easily adhered to prepared canvas. To solve it, I added a trace of surfactant to the watercolor solutions. This procedure was not always successful, and some of my early pieces using this technique did not survive without significant flaking. When dry, excess paint was scraped off with a razor blade to expose the grain of the canvas. Final details were added with opaque watercolors.
Two Figures from “The Castle” (1962) (11 1/2″ x 9 3/4″)
oil on sand and plywood

Franz Kafka’s novel was the inspiration for this piece. Sand was glued on the plywood board to form the two figures, and then oil paint was applied to complete the picture.

Peacable Kingdom

Early American folk artist Edward Hicks (1790-1849) is best known for his series of paintings around the theme sounded in Isaiah 11:6-9: “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (NRSV)

Peacable Kingdom (2013) (16″ x 20″)
collage on canvas

I’m especially proud of the little touch of having the girl holding an Easter basket, since it is only because of Christ’s sacrifice that Isaiah’s vision will take place in reality.

The Book of Daniel

I am currently leading a home Bible study through the intriguing Book of Daniel.  Its literary structure is a bit puzzling since the first six chapters consist of stories and the last six of visions. However, chapters 1 and 8-12 are written in Hebrew while chapters 2-7 are in Aramaic. The best explanation is that Chapter 1 is  written in Hebrew since it introduces the whole book while Aramaic is used for chapters 2-6 since they portray the Jews living in a foreign land. Before reverting to the Hebrew language for the universal messages of the last half, Chapter 7 was also written in Aramaic to help tie together the two halves of the book.

Feet of Clay (2004) (14 1/2″ x 30″)
mixed media on canvas
The famous story of the statue with feet of clay appears in Daniel 2 as part of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  This piece was quite laborious to prepare and included a background of collaged paper scraps soaked in dilute acrylic paint/glue mixtures combined with a central figure built up with metal foil, gilding and thick acrylic paint.  The final result is not at all satisfying and resembles a soccer player more than anything else.
Handwriting on the Wall (2004)
collage and acrylic on canvas
This piece turned out a bit better and was prepared by use of semi-opaque acrylic over a paper collage.
Behold, A Man (2004)
mixed media on canvas
The sky in this piece was prepared as in “Feet of Clay,” with the rest formed with numerous small paper cutouts. The head is made of collaged polyurethane, and the translucent robe of the figure was added with an acrylic wash and gilt.  This collage pictures the start of Daniel’s vision by the River Tigris described in Daniel 10.

Ezekiel 1 and 10 — Wheels Within Wheels

One type of medium I enjoy working in is a combination of wood sculpture, assemblage and collage. The piece below began with an old hat mold, a shoe mold, and several wooden spools.

Wheels Within Wheels (2002) (12″ x 9″ x 4 1/2″)

Some of the most perplexing passages in the Old Testament appear in Ezekiel 1 and 10 and I Kings 7.  They attempt to describe the undescribable: the four living creatures (or cherubim) and the vehicle in which they travel. Some of the symbology is obvious, such as the many eyes representing God’s omniscience, but most of the details remain as puzzling as the sculpture above conveys.

The Days of Noah

As part of Jesus’ “Little Apocalypse” recorded in Luke 17:20-37, he states that conditions right before the Second Coming will be like the days of Noah just before the flood. This has caused some commentators to turn immediately to Genesis and note that the people on earth at that time were evil beyond measure. They then draw the parallel to today’s world and conclude that Jesus is bound to come within a very short time span.  What they fail to note is that Jesus goes on in Luke’s account to explain that the people in Noah’s time were carrying on their daily activities of life without a clue that judgment was about to hit them.  In fact, one could almost draw the logical conclusion from these verses that the more people talk about our living in the last generation, the less likely it is to be true.

As in the Days of Noah (2007) (16 3/4″ x 15 1/2″ x 4 1/2″)
assemblage in old wooden cash box
Technically, this is more complex than most of my assemblages and involves collage, watercolor, acrylic, thread, clock parts imbedded in polystyrene, and a plexiglass sheet.

The Book of Numbers

Here is another piece utilizing Japanese playing cards; this one illustrates the Book of Numbers:

Numbers (2005) (8 3/4″ x 6 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ closed)
assemblage in wooden slide holder
There were places for 36 slides in this box, which suggested the Book of Numbers as an appropriate subject for the piece since there are 36 chapters in that book. A small collage was created for each of the playing cards to illustrate the contents of each chapter. The inside lid contains a map of the Holy Land and a lion. The latter is quite visible in the picture above, but disappears when viewed from a slightly higher elevation due to a transverse row of translucent plastic strips.  This symbolizes the hidden Lion of Judah to come–the Messiah.