It’s hard to actually admit that the work is done, when looking it over, I want to tweak and adjust and in some cases re-do but… they are finished!
Colours in this work came together but the notion that these colours formed a somewhat pretty work contradicts the theme of this piece— people were dying and had to look at this to be healed!
A Snake on a Pole
A snake on a wooden pole is a symbol recognized widely as a sign of healing. Whether carved on the wall of a Stone Age structure, adorning the side of an ambulance, or labeling the medical kit on the international space station, the symbol spans all of human history and all of its cultures.
A snake on a pole first appears in the Bible in Numbers 21:8. Then, Moses instructs those bitten by vipers to look at a brass snake on the pole and be healed.
MATTHEW SLEETH, MD, is a speaker, author, and executive director of Blessed Earth, an organization promoting stewardship of creation. His most recent book is Reforesting Faith: What Trees Teach Us About the Nature of God and His Love for Us (WaterBrook, April 2019).
Get down from there!Read More
This is an excerpt of a reflection for Trees of the Book by Chris Schoon
“What we encounter then in Romans 11 is a beautifully hopeful picture of God’s reclamation project. Rather than the ethnic, tribal exclusivity that dominates the landscape of human relationships, God, the original master Gardener, has undertaken a complete reclamation project to reunite us rebellious, isolated, malformed, stubborn, wild shoots within God’s garden-kingdom. Instead of throwing us away, God has lifted us out of our sinful separation and grafted us together as God’s people through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.”
Having pastored previously in both Michigan and Ontario, Chris Schoon serves as the Director of Faith Formation Ministries for the Christian Reformed Church. He enjoys hiking, board games, and back yard BBQs. Chris is the author of Cultivating an Evangelistic Character (Wipf & Stock, 2018).
I was a graphic designer once and love typography, layout, and design. So I began to play around with what this project could potentially look like. As a former newspaper art director, I have a vision for the final product and this has informed the way I produce these works. In some ways, they are more like illustrations than paintings because the subtle nuances are discovered when viewed closely in that span from eyes to printed page. Visual interpretation of my impressions of the scripture text and the closeup version of the works will hopefully allow the reader to slow down and meditatively reflect.
I have the privilege of showing 32 of the Trees of the Book project at the RZIM Centre in the CBC Building on Front Street in Toronto. The show will run until the beginning of March. 250 Front Street W, Unit 101, Toronto, Ontario (9:00 am to 5:00 pm).
SCRIPTURE TREE PROJECT
Since many of us live or work primarily in cities, we forget that trees once served a more significant role in our existence. From scripture we learn that God used trees to provide his people with shelter, protection, and food, as well as resources for energy, weaponry, construction, and medicine.
We still rely on trees. Trees supply food, mark seasons, clean the air, provide oxygen, cool streets and cities, shield us from ultraviolet rays, conserve energy, save water, and help prevent water pollution and soil erosion. Studies have even showed that the presence of trees can reduce violence. Trees are such powerful visual images of growth, decay, and resurrection that hardly any culture has not endowed them with symbolism and otherworldly influence.
I have found 116 references to trees in the Old and New Testaments, and I was intrigued and challenged to look at them metaphorically, illustratively, and tangibly. I have also looked for references to bushes, shrubs, or branches that were critical to telling God’s story, such as Moses and the burning bush, the dove bringing back a branch to Noah, and the stump of Jesse.
Using these tree verses to retell the story of salvation, these paintings seek to encourage prayerful reflection and response to God’s story. The paintings here are a selection from a larger work which I aim to publish as a contemplative book about trees in scripture. The book will include 52 visual interpretations of tree verses with written responses to each from writers, theologians, clergy, scientists, activists and educators.
This has been an inspirational spiritual journey for me and I hope that it will enrich others also.
All works are produced on wood panels using watercolour, ink, graphite, and ultraviolet varnish and framed with up-cycled wood.