Stephen and the Ethiopian Eunuch

The 12″ x 12″ collage on canvas below is a good example of the surrealistic results one gets by starting with a text and trying to render it fairly literally using only available magazine illustrations. The subject is the meeting of Stephen with the Ethiopian eunuch in the desert and joining him in his chariot (Acts 8:26-40). The modern parallel that struck me was that of hitchhiking. This, in turn, led me to the picture of a Roman statue with his thumb raised.  This story has a dual importance in the early life of the church since it shows the incorporation of groups excluded from much of Jewish sacrimonial life: eunuchs and gentiles.

Hitchhiker (2012)

Submit to One Another

Paul, in Ephesians 5:21 urges his audience to “submit yourselves to one another out of reverence for Christ.” He then spells out various situations where this principle applies. The piece below was constructed around that theme using an unusual metal change counter. You can barely see the pictures of a sub and a mitt in the top portion of the assemblage.

Submit (2008) (4 1/2″ x 18 1/2″  x 3 1/2″ deep)

John the Baptist

An old windowpane that I picked up in an antique store proved to be an ideal frame for a series of collages based on the life of John the Baptist. See if you can follow the story from these illustrations.

Scenes in a Life (2006) (31 1/4″ x 20″)

Vending Machine Art

I purchased an old gumball machine and, after some tinkering with the mechanism, altered it so that only balls of a certain size could fall into the bottom chamber when the handle was turned. It seemed like a good analogy to the separation of the sheep from the goats at the Final Judgment (Matthew 25:31-33) and was an especially apt use for a vending machine having VICTOR as its tradename.  Painting the wooden balls with acrylics completed the piece, the details of which are unfortunately rather hard to see in a photographic reproduction.

Victor Vending Machine (2009) (7″ x 7″ x 12″)

Structure of The Book of Revelation

It is well recognized that most of the Book of Revelation is arranged around groups of sevens: seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven plagues, etc. The controversy stems around the chronology of these groups of seven. Does each set of events follow the previous one in chronological order, or does each set recap the same series of events but using different imagery? For a good defense of the latter view, see the classic study More Than Conquerers by William Hendricksen.  Since the printer’s tray below contained two 7×7 grids, it seemed natural to use it to illustrate the Book of Revelation.

Sevens (2008) (22 1/2″ x 17 1/2″)
mixed media in printer’s tray

“God gave them up”

This subject quote is one of the most frightening phrases found in the Bible. Paul uses it three times in Romans 1:18-32 to describe the fate of those who purposely suppress the truth in order to follow their own sinful ways.  The rather complex piece pictured below is an assemblage constructed around an old nichos, or Mexican shrine. It illustrates the sort of things we worship in place of God. It is actually a piece of kinetic art since the vertical rod in the center rotates slowly due to the action of an old rotisserie motor housed in the top portion of the nichos.

“God gave them up” (2008) (13 3/4″ x 23 3/8″ x 7″)

I Samuel 5

I Samuel 5 tells the interesting story of the Philistines capturing the Ark of the Covenant, which is representative of God’s presence with the Israelites.  They place it in a building with a statue of their god Dagon. In the morning, Dagon has fallen on his face. The next morning, Dagon is found with his hands cut off. The Philistines are then tormented with some sort of plague until they decide to return the Ark to the Israelites.

One of the lessons to be gained from this narrative is that God does not need us to defend Him. He can do a very good job all by himself.

“The bigger they are…” (2008) (8″ x 10″ x 8″)
wood sculpture with acrylic, gilding and collage
left view
right view
top view

John the Revelator

There is an old Negro folk song called “John the Revelator” sung by Odetta that can be heard on Roger McGuinn’s “Treasures from the Folk Den.”  Hence the title of the collage below which was created using an unusual wooden antique I picked up somewhere. If anyone knows what the piece was originally used for, I would appreciate you letting me know. The panels slide up and down.

John the Revelator (2008) (15″ x 8″ x 2″)

Daniel 5:23

Another powerful denouncement of idolatry in the Old Testament is found in Daniel 5:23 where Daniel confronts King Belshazzar and announces his impending fate: “You have praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood, and stone, which do not see or hear or know; but the God in whose power is your very breath, and to whom belong all your ways, you have not honored.” (NRSV)

Blind, Deaf and Dumb (2012) (16″ x 20″)
acrylic and collage on canvas

2 Peter

The Second Epistle of Peter has been called “the most problematic of all of the New Testament epistles.” Part of this reason has to do with the relationship of the letter to the Epistle of Jude, with which it shares a much common language. The literary structure of the letter is also a disputed subject. Without going into the details, my own analysis of the structure of 2 Peter forms the blueprint for the piece shown below. The collage was created using three canvases and a wooden box.

The Second Time Around (2008) (12″ x 15 1/4″ x 1 3/4″)