In the beginning, there was nothing.
This is the process of an artwork I created through the observance of Easter 2019, beginning after sundown on Good Friday and proceeding through Easter Sunday morning.
The earth was tohu vavohu ( without form and void); darkness was upon the face of the deep and the Ruach Elohim (breath of God) was hovering upon the face of the waters. – Genesis 1:2
God spent a time conceiving and executing a work of creation which formed all we know and experience out of the nothingness. When the work was enough, He viewed the creation and called it tov meod (very good). – Genesis 1:31
טוֹב מְאוֹד – tov meod – very good
The pinnacle of God’s creation was humanity itself, created in His own tzelem (image). His motivation to create was not to make servants, but to create partners in this creation. Out of the fragility of humanity came brokenness. In our brokenness, we let go of trusting the story God is telling through creation and work tirelessly to write the story ourselves. An artist’s creation does not work to earn its value to the artist, it is valuable because the artist created it. To provide an example of how living internally owning and externally operating out of this integrated value, God created Yehoshua who is called Immanu-El (God with us) – Matthew 1:21-23
For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve – and to give his life as a ransom for many. – Mark 10:45
Once the portrait of Jesus, exhausted and crowned with thorns, was complete, I filled the platter with a pool of lighter fluid. I chose lighter fluid because both the paint and acrylic ink I was about to use resist the liquid without smearing.
As a reference to Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, I used an eye dropper to drip crimson ink into the clear lighter fluid, as if his blood were dripping into the basin of water used to wash the disciples’ feet clean.
“His blood be on us and our children!” – Matthew 27: 25-26
At this point in the art development, the corporate worship service entered a time of observing communion. After partaking of the bread and recalling how the Christ’s body was broken in sacrifice to restore us, I quietly carried the platter into the light and held it out art arms length over a white drop cloth on stage. The lighter fluid ran down my fingers, carrying the ink with it. The liquid felt smooth and warm, like freshly spilled blood. As gravity pulled it off my fingertips, it left a crimson stain on the bright white drop cloth.
As the warm crimson wept off the polished stoneware surface, the words of Mark 10:45 were recited once again and the breaking of Jesus’s body being an act of serving humanity was emphasized. My eyes passed over the people contained in the shadows beyond, drifting back to ‘tov meod’ and following a drop of red down to the stained white sheet, and my gaze fixed on the raised geometrical shape forcing the sheet’s surface to a different plane. Hidden from the observers’ view was a concrete stepping stone. I held my creation in my hands, with the medium used to create it dripping freely off my fingers, in front of the people who would not hear the message it carried without its sacrifice, staring at the imminent demise I knew was coming. My heart froze and, in my mind, I kept repeating these words, “this is good, this is very good” (not from the context of performance, but to remind myself that what was about to happen MUST be done).
As the words “broken for you” echoed off the solemn walls around us, I let go. The platter fell in a crisp and straight line, then broke the silence as it shattered on the concealed concrete.
I spent the rest of that night’s service collecting the pieces and placing them on my work table. (some chunks were not found until after this photo was taken)
This was Friday. The artwork lay dormant until the third day dawned.
On Sunday, it awoke.
In the late 15th century, a failed effort to repair a broken bowl by its Chinese makers for Japanese shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa birthed a style of pottery which became a movement. The Chinese artisans used a staple method to reassemble the broken pieces of the bowl belonging to Yoshimasa. Less than pleased with the results, Japanese craftsman revised this method so that the cracks become filled with a liquid adhesive infused with a precious metal and the cracked defects become lines of gold, silver or platinum. This style is known today as Kintsugi or Kintsukuroi (golden repair). The addition of the precious metal effectively increases the value of the pottery, which is traditionally used for chanoyu (Japanese tea ceremony).
At the start of our Easter morning worship services, I began reassembling the jagged shards of the platter in the Kintsugi style with gold-infused epoxy. The process took through both of our services that morning to complete, but all the pieces came together and restored the platter to its original form, just as the completion of the Christ’s sacrifice for humanity restored us with our Creator.
Nishlam! (It is fininshed!) – John 19:30