My submission to the Engage Art Contest 2022 is a mixed media, primitive style, contemporary narrative drawing. The singular symbolic motif within the work embodies the figurative and the piece as a whole reflects the sensibility of an ancient manuscript illustration.
EXTENDING MEANING BY DEVELOPING A CONCEPTUAL BASIS
As an independent research artist, a central aspect of my practice involves methods of experimentation, study, and meditation as a pathway to explore, understand, and engage in a meaningful response to the world around me. My current in-studio work for “Garden in Winter”, for example, was preceded by research in the following form: First of all, I spent time outdoors gathering bits and pieces of dried foliage from in and under the snow. Next, I organized and catalogued my frozen landscape collection of leaves, seeds, and twigs, after which I took time to observe, document, and record the lines, patterns and shapes present in the dried and withered plant material. Finally, in a last step of the research phase, I created a graphic language based on my findings and which I am now using in-studio as a basis for creating a series of drawings. My submission to the Engage Art Contest “Stand Like a Tree” is one of the drawings to emerge from the context of this project.
My artwork submission is based on a response to the idea of standing strong which is one of the central themes in Ephesians 6:12-14. The importance of standing is emphasized in This passage by the fact that the word stand is repeated numerous times in quick succession. In verses 12-14, for instance, we find Paul urging his hearers to “take their stand”, “stand their ground”, “stand”, and “stand firm in the face of evil.”
When I, as a Christian, think about taking my stand, standing my ground, or standing firm in the face of evil, I imagine myself as a tree. This is not difficult for me to do because I grew up in the context of a pacifist Mennonite agricultural community where living with nature was part of life. Generations of my family worked the land I grew up on beginning with my great-grandparents who immigrated to Canada from Russia to avoid fighting in the Revolution and to preserve their freedom to practice their faith. Because of them I inherited a rich culture of intuitive knowledge of the laws of nature. That is why it makes sense to me to think of myself spiritually as a tree:
A SHORT AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A TREE
In the imaginary photo album of my spiritual life, I see myself as a little seedling trying to take a stand in the soil of the Word. I relive the images of struggle I experienced in my youth and notice that I have become more mature and stable. Back then, the bark of my thin-skinned trunk was not as armour-like as it is now...but that’s OK, because I am no longer as susceptible to being harmed by predators and disease. My bark protects me. Yes, surely I have aged, but my branches are producing more fruit than ever before. I am sure it is because my roots have spread wide and are deeply rooted in the stream of God’s love, faithfulness, and provision.
Printed copies of my work are available upon request:
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