I made this painting because I’ve been thinking about how more and more churches are losing congregations. I think there’s a lot of reason for this- first, I think there’s genuinely less interest in traditional Christianity. Secondly, I think that many traditional churches are opting for non traditional spaces.
As someone who has a traditional Christian faith, I have mixed feelings about the movement away from brick and mortar churches. Seeing abandoned churches being converted to bars, concert venues, or just left to host graffiti is vaguely disorienting.
I made this painting as both hope and an affirmation. The blooming tree is something I added to the abandoned church picture I had taken. I wanted to affirm a belief that the Holy Spirit doesn’t live in buildings, that God’s truth exists in the world outside of Christian spaces. I also wanted to acknowledge that there is a clear link between death and rebirth in my worldview- clearly because of Jesus. While I feel disillusioned by the changing times, I have hope in redemption for the future of the church.
Compositionally, there’s numerous things I’ve tried to do with this painting. First, I made sure to leave the holes unfilled and the screws visible in order to enhance the rough, abandoned feeling of the church space. I’ve also aggressively pushed the church towards asymmetry in the construction. For instance, if you look closely at the steps, there’s intentional discontinuity of what should be straight lines. That’s due to the abbreviated representation of the wood construction of the building.
Opposite the building, the tree is meticulous in construction. I made it using tiny, exacto bladed wood chips that I glued one by one to create the tree skeleton. I then used tiny wood shapes to create a 3-4 layered latticework of motion that I used to represent the leaf structures.
To bring it together, I used pink and purple as dark and light highlights through the church facade. There was an awful moment when the church was straight yellow, black and brown. Connecting the two items by color turned the two very different structures, the church and the tree, into a unified thought.
This is the first time that I’ve tried to make a painting about my life as a Christian. While it looks like things I’ve done in the past, I hope the ways I changed the composition is evocative enough to do be something more.
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