In college I got the opportunity to study in Florence, Italy. I could just walk through the streets and pass an open door to the most beautiful cathedral, and inside would be gorgeous religious paintings. Most of them were in alcoves or nooks that were roped off by velvet barriers. Sometimes you would have to learn precariously over the ropes, craning your neck, to see intricate murals on the ceiling. It occurred to me, though, at the times I felt the presence of God, it was not in the grandeur of those paintings, or the lavish decorations of the cathedrals. No, instead I have often felt God in community. I have felt God in helping others, in the tearful embraces of friends, and lending a hand to those who need it.
“John The Baptist as Designated Driver” is a quick look at a spiritual leader in a place under spiritual warfare. It is a part of my larger work-- all containing the theme of finding God in unexpected, and what some would call uncouth places. Specifically the places college kids often find themselves in.
In execution of this painting, I strove to emulate the style of Caravaggio, a notable Italian painter who did many religious works. I also referenced the pyramidal composition that we see in a lot of paintings with biblical depictions. This painting is oil on canvas, and it's about 2' x 4' in size
Conceptually, I tried to represent a modern John the Baptist drawing on iconography typically used to depict him. The beard, the camelskin (represented as a northface jacket), the red cloth (represented as an unworn windbreaker), and him pointing to the cross (represented as a keychain).
John the Baptist was biblically used as a means of deliverance for Christ, and a designated driver is a means of deliverance for party-goers. The Designated Driver does not offer judgement--only a ride home.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” What does putting on the armor of God look like at college? What does it look like when you are in the world, but not of it? To this, I thought to myself, if Jesus were walking and talking with us as a man today, where would he be? It is our prerogative as followers of Christ to go out into the world, and be a light on the hill and not hide that light under a bushel. A spiritual battle may not always look like actual armor and war waged between angels and demons. Sometimes it simply means making the right choice, and being available for those who need you. Sometimes it means protecting and being there for folks who haven’t made the same decision as you. In all things we want to share the love of Christ, even if that means picking up a friend from a bar who had too much to drink— just so they make it home safe.
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Libby Rule is a live painter and commission painter! For inquiries please visit libbyrulepaints.com !
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