Thursday, February 22, 2007



I'm giving up agnosticism for Lent.

Last month I was intrigued by the challenge of imposing my style on a religious-themed painting when I heard about this call to entry (*note* deadline March 12). I ruminated for awhile (stopping short of actually chewing my cud) and then did a little research on each of the 15 stations of the cross, which is the theme of this exhibition. (Meantime, I was also fretting over the ethics of a non-Christian tackling a Christian theme, but got over it with the help of a friend.) I was not satisfied with the illustrative approach I was using so decided to try a more general 'symbolism through motifs' (same old-same old) that I'm better at. This is what I came up with.

The canvas is divided - loosely - into a cross with - loosely - four quadrants:

Upper right: The dove is the most important symbol in the painting, surrounded by the light of the holy spirit, because it represents the release of the soul in death. I chose to include the olive branch as it also alludes to Noah's harbinger of hope.
Upper left: The pear represents the Incarnate Christ in allusion to his love for mankind. (I lifted that phrase; can you tell?)
Lower right: Since the fish is one of the most important Christian symbols and one of my favourite motifs, I painted 15 little swimmies to represent each of the 15 stations of the cross. The ghostly white fish skeletons represent the Holy Trinity ... or maybe the three steps of the hill at Calvary.
Lower left: There are five loaves of bread (the body of Christ) to signify each of the five wounds. The water in the background is to represent cleansing and purity.

In addition, there are seven crosses along the left-hand arm of the cross, representing each of the seven sacraments, and twelve goblets of wine (the blood of Christ) along the right-hand arm of the cross, representing the apostles.

It was an interesting experience translating my limited knowledge of Christian symbolism into my own visual vocabulary, meantime sifting through the shadows of two years of Anglican churchgoing with a friend when I was a child while being raised in a non-spiritual household. Needless to say, all sorts of things surfaced.

Now all I have to do is remember to actually submit this painting for jurying...

stations right stations left


Blogger Merisi's Vienna For Beginners said...

Andrea, I like your "transliteration", you've created one more in a long series of beautiful works of art that anybody can enjoy.

22/2/07 2:54 p.m.  
Blogger dinahmow said...

Hmm...recognisably "you" and yet, not quite the "you" I see in other works.
Is this still a part of the Primal series?

22/2/07 4:24 p.m.  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

I must say that in the past few days I have happened upon a few blogs that are artistic. I have been going through some of my pieces of late and as I haven't picked up a paint brush in many years due to having had 4 kids, I am beginning to feel niggly.
I love your interpreation of this piece. The balance and harmony of it are evident, even though you have , as you say, loosely divided it with the loose cross pattern. It still flows through, and it is up to anyone's own interpretation and their own feelings at the time, what this means to themselves.
Look forward to visiting you more.

22/2/07 5:12 p.m.  
Blogger carla said...

This is really special, Andrea! The colors here are so incredibly luminous, and the use of quadrants works so well. I love the dove and the big sphere that unifies the four sections.. I'm actually quite speechless. I just love this, and I love that you researched the symbolism and used your own artistic language to interpret this spiritual topic.

22/2/07 5:16 p.m.  
Blogger Angela Rockett said...

This is freakin' AWESOME! Great job, Andrea. I can't wait to show it to the jury! :)

22/2/07 5:21 p.m.  
Blogger Heather said...

I love it! A whole lot better than what often passes for "art" in Christian circles. There's a great book called "Addicted to Mediocrity" that talks about how many people in the Christian church have set aside beauty in art and replaced it with mediocrity. Perhaps we need more people like you injecting art back into Christianity.

22/2/07 6:56 p.m.  
Anonymous kyknoord said...

Fantastic. Now for you next challenge: athiest symbolism.

22/2/07 10:15 p.m.  
Blogger Cream said...

Giving up agnosticism for Lent!
I love it, Andrea.

23/2/07 1:22 a.m.  
Blogger Caroline said...

What an amazingly powerful piece Andrea - very strong energy!!!

23/2/07 2:50 a.m.  
Blogger Joyce said...

I supppose its dull and redundant to say what a beautiful piece this is. Still, I am moved.

23/2/07 5:17 a.m.  
Blogger Steven Novak said...

WOw...I apsolutely LOVE that piece.


23/2/07 8:59 a.m.  
Blogger Ces said...

Well, I am very impressed because you managed you make a totally unique representation. I also am impressed that for an agnostic you know a lot of religious details that some of the faithful did not know.

23/2/07 3:47 p.m.  
Blogger md said...

nice colors and comp

23/2/07 6:06 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful piece Andrea !

24/2/07 4:22 a.m.  
Blogger Joy Eliz said...

Andrea, This is really beautiful.

24/2/07 4:34 a.m.  
Blogger Cynthia said...

Very funny..."I'm giving up agnosticism for Lent". If you hadn't explained it, I wouldn't have seen the Christian symbolism, but after explaining it I see it now. A unique interpretation, and I think it's good to challenge oneself.

24/2/07 9:36 a.m.  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

This is a winner! It's like when you get an illustration job with a subject you know nothing about, You learn so much plus you are challenging yourself and putting a lot of meaning in the work! Really Awesome!!! You did good and nice to hear from you!

24/2/07 1:30 p.m.  
Blogger tlc illustration said...

Andrea - I think this turned out so beautifully! And so completely *you* at the same time. I couldn't be more pleased. :-) And proud of you.

25/2/07 7:34 p.m.  
Blogger Philip said...

A great painting!

26/2/07 12:33 a.m.  
Blogger Wade Rockett said...

Wow - that's really, really beautiful.

The ethical question is an interesting one. My thinking is that regardless of the beliefs that you hold, Christian themes, symbolism, motifs, and ideas are part of your cultural heritage. As a creator, you have every right to them; they are a brimming treasure chest of vivid images for the taking.

(By a coincidence, today is Christopher Marlowe's birthday. Probably an atheist, yet he was the author of one of the most powerful Christian-themed works of literature ever: Doctor Faustus.)

26/2/07 4:24 p.m.  
Blogger kj said...

oh andrea, this is wonderful. i was brought up catholic and it was comforting in some way to have your version of the symbols of faith and religion.

i love it.

26/2/07 7:57 p.m.  
Blogger Barbara said...

This is a wonderful piece Andrea, and so is the idea of giving up agnosticism for Lent!

27/2/07 6:12 p.m.  
Blogger Belinda said...

This isn't *just* cold research, this is so much of your heart, too. And it's MINE, ALL MINE! HAHAHAHAHAAA!

Erm, you might want to email me your mailing address again.

Good gosh, I love this painting. I am going to put it in my bedroom, I think, so I can look at it when I go to bed and when I wake up.


28/2/07 3:18 p.m.  
Blogger Paula Manning-Lewis said...

I cannot say enough how much I love your work! This is an amazing piece, Christian or not!

1/3/07 9:29 a.m.  
Blogger CSL said...

I found my way here through KJ's blog. I absolutely love this painting. The dove is one of my favorite symbols, pacifism being the heart of my spiritual beliefs. And the bread loaves remind me of the cut-cloth molas made by the Cuna Indians of Panam's San Blas Islands. Just lovely, lovely work. I hope you win.

1/3/07 5:35 p.m.  
Blogger CSL said...

P.S. Jeez, I was so entranced with this painting that while I was studying it I let the cheese toast I was making burn and set off the smoke detector in my house!

1/3/07 5:39 p.m.  
Blogger Tag(Carpet)Bagger said...

I'm trying to give up absinence for Lent...

2/3/07 2:51 p.m.  
Blogger Jean said...

J'aime beaucoup !
Vivant , gai , expressif !

1/5/07 11:51 p.m.  
Blogger Kris said...

I was one of the lucky ones who got to purchase a print of this piece, and now have it hanging up here at work, where I can look at it every day. It's just lovely, and makes me smile every time I look over. Thank you for submitting it to our exhibit :)

21/5/07 5:11 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Kris: Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment but thank you even more for purchasing a print! I hope you enjoy it for many years to come.

22/5/07 6:51 a.m.  

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