Photography by Maddie Olling
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
This piece was commissioned by Downtown Cornerstone Church. It is common to worship God through music and the preached word but they desire to teach the congregation how to worship through other mediums, including the visual arts. I so appreciate that. This is part of that initiative.
Pulled from Pinterest. I could not find the artists. If you know who did these, please let me know.
I begin nearly every design project by collecting inspiration images. At a loss as to where to start with abstract art, I took the same approach. I knew which kinds of materials and colors I wanted to use but started sketching to get my head around a concept.
I saw Christ in my mind portrayed as a gold line, straight, steady, partially hidden, possibly eroded at the edges. His resolution to walk unwaveringly to the cross “for the joy that was set before him” seemed incredibly important to include in my abstract telling of this story. I didn’t want darkness to be the only focus. The point is that Easter is coming. There had to be hope.
The gold line is marred and buried but it emerges and carries on.
The point is that Easter is coming. There had to be hope.
Testing acrylic paint, molding paste, and charcoal.
I had two ideas with different materials that I couldn’t decide between so I did tests of both concepts to determine what would work best and what would most poignantly tell the story.
Experimenting with ink, alcohol, and water.
I ended up loving the depth, texture, and tactile nature of the acrylic paint and molding paste. I made one more miniature to test the composition. Because creating abstract art is such a different process from the systematic, process-oriented, digital design that I do daily, it was difficult to start putting paint down on the final piece—which was 30x30 inches—but once I did, it went quickly (terrifying).
First, a dark dark grey smooth base coat of acrylic. Once dry, I taped off a 20” square with masking tape and put down the gold leaf. I let the adhesive dry and brushed off the excess leaf with a paint brush, leaving some of the gold dust to shine through the thick black strokes. Next, I mixed black acrylic paint with molding paste, crackle paste, and clear heavy matte gel in different bowls and began slapping it down within the square using palette knives. While wet, I dusted it with charcoal that I had crushed. After about a day of drying, I carefully pulled up the tape and filled in the gaps on the gold leaf, touching up the line in a few places in the middle. This piece was done on white mat board, chosen for ease not longevity but it seemed to work well enough (we shall see).
I want you to look at this and interpret as much or as little as you want. I don’t want to tell you what to see and feel. But I do see Christ clearly. I am moved by His resolution to endure such horrors for me, for you, for all of us. The suffocating grime, grit, and tar is ours. And yet He did something beautiful, something radical, and undeserved to rescue us from ourselves. If you don’t know the story or don’t understand how this piece represents Jesus and the crucifixion, ask me or maybe start Paul’s letter to the Romans.
It was a risk and a giant experiment that I was unsure of the entire time I was creating it but I love how it turned out. More importantly, I have heard beautiful interpretations from others and seen it impact their view of God. Beautiful. I am grateful.