During the 2015 Advent/Christmas season, Deb Murphy, Deb Murphy (Director of Spiritual Formation of Children & Youth and FCC Office Manager) led us in the spiritual discipline of seeing Advent through art. Each week Deb shared a different piece of artwork and the meaning behind it, culminating in the celebration of Christ’s birth at the end of Advent and carrying through to Epiphany Sunday.
1st Sunday in Advent: Franck Dion, 2004: Josiah’s Reform (Bible Illustration)
2nd Sunday in Advent – The Good Shepherd by Hanna-Cheriyan Varghese
Varghese was a Malaysian artist, born to Christian parents. “Her works are characterized by their bright & bold colors and rhythmic lines. These are mostly the influence of her Orthodox Christian upbringing that introduced her to colorful and intricate icons; and her childhood in the tropical country of Malaysia, with its bright and lively flora and fauna, diverse culture and ethnic people and religions. She took great responsibility in the representation of Biblical texts. According to Hanna, ‘Visual images reveal more of one’s mind than words. That is why art has been used in education, contemplation, meditation and veneration in Christian tradition.’” (http://www.asianchristianart.org/ accessed 12-2-15)
4th Sunday in Advent – The Icon of Zechariah
This is a Greek Orthodox icon of Zechariah. His scroll has part of today’s scripture. The area surrounding Zachariah is gold leaf, hammered into place. Each stroke of the hammer was accompanied by a specific prayer (mmm – remind anyone of prayer shawls?). The gold work and elongated fingers and face are typical of icons. Almost everything in an icon has symbolic meaning, from stance, to color of clothing, to placement of hands.
The Baptism of Jesus by He Qi
Epiphany Sunday – The Journey of the Magi by James Tissot
Tissot’s reputation has so firmly come to rest on the (French) artist’s depictions of the stylish leisured class of the late-nineteenth century that the religious works of his late career – illustrations of the life of Christ – are little know. However, at the turn of the century, these biblical images were considered his greatest achievement due, on one hand, to the popularity of images from the Near East and, on the other hand, to the sense of immediacy Tissot gave to an age-old tale through uncompromising attention to detail. The Journey of the Magi was created after the second of three trips that the artist made to Palestine between 1886 and 1896 to gather sketches and photographs of the people, costumes, topography, and light of the region.