Friday, March 27, 2009

"My Times Are In Your Hand"

Most of the time, I make art because I have something on my mind, or in my spirit (both really), and I have to express it. The things that are the deepest tend to percolate for a long time, and then bubble up at the appropriate moment. This artwork expresses a combination of celebration and grief. The topic: life in the womb and the loss of that life.

As images go, this is a simple composite with easy symbolism, at least to me. The child's silhouette is the key to interpreting this image. (It's my oldest grandson~ who is now 5~ when he was first toddling around, looking out at the rain through the door in the den). I probably had more emotion as I created this artwork than I have had with many others put together. Perhaps this comes through, but it's impossible for me to discern, as I will always feel the feelings when I look at it from now on.

It usually happens (when I make art) that I'm feeling first, then groping to express artistically what I feel. The thinking is intuitive as I gravitate to photos I've taken or licensed that I keep archived for just such an "emergency". As I made this, the Scripture verse I quoted in the title above ran through my mind. I was struggling to find comfort for a loss~ someone else's loss of a baby by miscarriage~ that seemed to trigger something in me I couldn't explain. Grief welled up in me and threatened to bring on depression if I didn't deal with it. Art's good therapy, especially if we let the Spirit of God be involved, which of course I do.

I'm not going to go into a big discussion of what's on my mind, as this is an art blog, meant for interpretation (although I do get teachy and preachy here, I just can't help myself sometimes). But I am sure I will pursue the topic more in depth on "Fireberries" when I have time. For now, just let me say that my understanding of the preciousness of life has deepened over my lifetime, and it is a compelling force behind my artwork.

No matter what people think in this day and age, every life that is conceived in the womb is created by God. He breathes life into that tiny embryo, and it is a living person with a spirit. No child, born or unborn, goes unnoticed by Him or is unknown to Him. Whether they are miscarried or aborted they go to be with Him. I learned this when I miscarried my first pregnancy so many years ago. I will tell that story sometime when I blog all this out.

I actually titled this piece "Revelation #16" and included it in my series (as I felt it had universal revelation in it and worked visually with the rest). The background is an outer space image from the Hubble telescope, and this particular photo is of the Crab Nebula. Its appearance was perfect for my artwork with the glowing, womblike section that holds the child. I love working with these public domain space images (I've been invited to submit some of my artworks using their Hubble images for one of their official websites, I just haven't gotten up the nerve to go for it-- fear of rejection you know).

When I look at the small version of this artwork, I see angels circling the womb. The "angels" are actually dogwood blossoms, which of course you can see when you look up close. But I like the feeling of the womb being protected here, and I believe this is God's heart and action: to protect the life that is carried within.

Although death has not yet been "laid at Jesus feet", I believe it has been defeated by Him via the cross and resurrection. It is one of my great burdens that we begin to get a hold of this revelation. The dogwood traditionally represents the cross and passion of Christ. I think it is fitting here, for He "tasted death for every one". "He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," so He also knows how to comfort us in our losses and grieving. He always gives us hope and courage to help us keep on living life with joy and thankfulness.

In this artwork, the womb is portrayed as a vehicle, a "space ship", for the journey of growth and development that takes place for 9 months. It's spiritual counterpart is the concept of "the hand of God", which never lets go of this infant no matter what happens. The new life (each an eternal spiritual being), here, is being escorted to the heavenly realm: if the fetus is born a baby in the world, then God's hand is ever-present to guide him into the heavenly realm, by the Spirit, as the child grows naturally.

There's a white heart of light/love around the baby, which is God's heart of love, always present no matter what the circumstance. I like how the patterns made by the nebula and the flowering branches created an umbilical cord. Natural life is drawn from God through the birth-mother, and spiritual life is drawn from God through the spiritual mother, the Church (Body of Christ). As you can see, there is a deeper, more spiritual meaning to this artwork. We are to nurture all lives that are given into our care, for they all belong to God and derive life from Him.

Textures were overlaid in this artwork, one of rain through a curtained window during a violent tropical storm, signifying grief and a "veil" of oppression that keeps us from seeing the purposes of God when things look dark. Laid over that is another texture: a peaceful beach scene with gentle waves at sunrise, after a storm. This signifies the natural birth by water, and the spiritual birth represented by baptism. Life overcomes death, and light overcomes darkness. Underneath all of this is a texture made from a photo of light shining through a chalcedony stone, which is blue like the sky. To me this says the light of the third heaven breaks through the second and first heavens with the Truth of God, colouring everything we see, whether we know it or not.

I hope you've gained some insight and inspiration from this artwork and from my explanation. Thanks for reading! Be blessed.

Psalm 31:15 (whole Psalm recommended)
Psalm 22: 9-11
Hosea 13:14
Romans 8:38-39
Hebrews 2:9
Isaiah 53: 3-4; 61:2
II Corinthians 1: 3-4

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