One of my paintings is going to be in the Creations Art Show at Our Savior’s Atonement Lutheran Church in Washington Heights this weekend! If you’re in NYC, check out this document for a list of times the show is open to the public Sept. 27th-Oct. 6th: Creations Art Show Flyer
The theme of the exhibit is GRACE: What does it mean? Where can we experience moments of grace? What makes it so amazing? Artists were challenged to depict what grace means to them in any type of art – dance, music, theater, visual art…and then to write about the moment that inspired them.
The moment that spoke to me occurred at the appropriately named Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Baltimore, MD. The church is located in Middle East Baltimore, a neighborhood suffering from poverty, crime, injustice, racism and displacement. I witnessed the people at that church fight back against the negativity through their faith and their optimism spread throughout the community. Each person had a powerful story about trials they faced and how they overcame them thanks to God’s Great Grace.
When I was there in 2008-09, I made these sketches inspired by the congregation’s moving rendition of the song “Amazing Grace”, their namesake:
When sung by this group of strong, passionate, God-loving Christians, the song was transformed from a simple, popular hymn to one of great meaning:
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
We have already come
‘Twas grace that brought us safe thus far
And grace will lead us home
We. Us. I will never forget how they changed the words to show that we were all in this together. Everyone had something they were facing, but God’s undeserved grace was going to lead us through it as a family and a community. This grace empowered them to support each other, help each other and build each other up. At that time in my life, I desperately needed their support and encouragement.
I have wanted to go back and re-create this image of a dove hovering over the skyline of Baltimore and the red brick church and this exhibit gave me a reason to open up that chapter of my life again. This is the final 12″ x 36″ painting I submitted (click to see it enlarged):
Now that I’m in NYC, I can’t help but think of that skyline as any city – not just Baltimore. I wasn’t sure if the dove was dropping the song of grace down on the world or taking it up along with the prayers and burdens of a group of people singing together in solidarity. Maybe it’s a little of both. In the end, it’s a tribute to some of the most hopeful, peaceful and grace-full people I’ve ever met.