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All Saints' Princeton Installation

All Saints’ Church, Princeton, NJ

Easter

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Epiphany continues the Christmas theme in the appearance of God through Christ’s birth. The white panels are done with crushed oyster shell pigments (Japanese technique of “Gofun”) on Belgium Portrait Linen. These are meant to read as “innerscape” of our journey as we, like the Magi, look to the stars to find Christ. At Epiphany, the panels are “closed” but in Easter they are opened, revealing the fragments of pure gold in between the paintings. In the morning or afternoon light, the cracks emanate golden light, to indicate Christ’s triumphant resurrection and the empty tomb.

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Advent

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In Advent, we anticipate the birth of Christ, and the panels are “open” (with slight space in between the diptych) to indicate God’s “crack” in time and space to bring our Savior into our domain. At Pentecost, they will be “closed” with no space in between, indicating the power of the Holy Spirit’s act to close all communication gaps between us and God, as well as each other.

The south wall (to the right as you enter the sanctuary) will be filled with the resplendence of Japanese gold on top of cinnabar and dark red. Because the microscopically thin Japanese gold is gilded on top of canvas, there will be an intentional “distressed” effect when the surface is washed down. The north wall canvases “catch” the flowing river of gold as I had placed them beneath the south wall paintings. In Christmas, such a flow reminds us of divine birth; at Pentecost the lyrical flow of the power of the Spirit to move into our hearts, giving us another New Birth in us. This may be called “generative” art, albeit that definition is different from the current digital form of “generative art” which the digital algorithm creates automatically. What I mean by “generative” is art that is full of potential, and one art that “gives birth” to another. I hope all of what I do as an artist has that potency to connect with the New Creation.

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Ordinary

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The Ordinary Time painting with predominant color of green, is to evoke lush trees that are seen through the windows at All Saints. They also bring the healing color of green/blue inside the sanctuary, and the result is a welcoming to the congregants and viewers into a healing, safe place that is All Saints.

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Lent

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Lenten Season begins with Ash Wednesday. Japanese sumi ink used for the dark panels are literally pine soot compressed with Japanese hide glue, so quite appropriate to be used for Lent beginning in Ash Wednesday. Good Friday, the suffering of Christ, is represented by the dark, cinnabar surface, and they usher in the New, at Easter. At Easter, the Epiphany paintings come back, but with an “open” split between the panels, revealing the gold fragments that will reflect the sun out, through the cracks of the painting, into the new world.

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About the All Saint's Installation

Advent
Advent

Moses encounters God through a burning bush (Exodus 3). The bush is burning, yet it is not consumed. The Creator speaks through such a humble bush to give us the Decalogue and the design of the Tabernacle to Moses. God often speaks through paradoxes, communicating and communicating, even stooping down to God’s Creatures, to reveal I AM” as God’s own name. Rabbi Shai Held, in our recent class on the Psalms at Duke Divinity School hosted by Dr. Ellen Davis, stated that this revelation in Exodus can be translated: I will be with you always, as I am with you now”. In a smaller way, through the burning bush”, the paradoxes of life, God can speak to us as well, to be fully Present in our lives. Our lives, too, are full of uncontrollable mystery, and just like Moses, we may be in exile as well. Our lives are to be marked with the paradoxes of trauma and joy, deep sorrow and unfathomable delights.

The arts can be that burning bush in our lives. The arts can become a Presence felt and encountered, even becoming a greater witness in our culture at large. The arts can be, on the other hand just like the burning bush, esoteric, enigmatic and mysterious; and yet through the test of time, the artist’s touch intuiting into that Holy Mystery, can be a conduit through which a community can speak to the world. The work that is created for the service of the church can remain even years after we cross the threshold of eternity, and thereby speaking to generations.

All Saint’s Liturgical paintings were painted between the fall of 2016 and the spring of 2017, as my offering to the church. I was privileged to be a new member of a church, allowed to respond to the newly constructed addition to the sanctuary. My desire began to be expressed as a conversation between Peter Travers, the leader of the Men’s Group, and Rector Hugh Brown, as I noticed the empty” walls perfectly suited for such an offering. What ended up was four sets of paintings, creatively re-used at times during the liturgical year, diptych spanning 6 feet high and 12 feet in length each. The cracks” in between can play a significant part in the installation, especially at Advent and at Easter.

Alyson LeCroy, my assistant and a photographer, captured both the process and the finished paintings, paintings that come alive during the morning or afternoon hours when the shafts of light enter the sanctuary. They are presented here.

The paintings are done on canvas or Belgium portrait linen on aluminum stretchers. I was highly aware of the need for the work to be lightfast (due to the sun), portable ease for the installation process, and durability. The materials used consists of a combination of 21st Century Space Age materials and 17th Century Japanese materials, now known as Nihonga materials of pulverized precious minerals and gold, as well as platinum.