Community Show 2020
Luis Guerra, Luz II, watercolor on paper, 10 x 7.5 in.
I involved myself in a simplification process in the Amuleto series. I love working with the white of the paper. Simplicity and humility are important, valuable qualities to aspire to in this age.
The amuleto series in which Luz III is a part of was done as blessings for the home. Points of prayer and contemplation.
Luis Guillermo Guerra is a painter, sculptor, and writer who divides his time between Real de Catorce, a mountain village in San Luis Potosí, and Austin, Texas. He is a recipient of various awards, among them the Siqueiros-Pollock Award in the Binational Border Painting Competition of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, in Mexico. Guerra’s artwork is in numerous collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in Washington, D.C. His stories, Cuentos de la Sierra, were heard on National Public Radio’s Latino USA for twenty years.
When I heard this year's theme was "prayer", I knew I wanted to make a prayer doll. I envisioned a cloth doll, but soon realized the difficulty of writing on cloth. Therefore, I ended up with a paper doll, which is formed with newspaper, cardboard, some wool and cotton and netting and small objects I discovered when cleaning out drawers during the pandemic! She is tattooed with many favorite Bible verses, songs and personal favorite prayers. She is a hands-on prayer doll. Turn on her fingertip lights and move the deer's head to drink from the river. She is longing for a name.
Melissa Bernard is a member of All Saints and has loved many forms of art since she was a child. She was lucky to have a Mom who let her use her makeup to draw portraits on family road trips. She used art to teach both math and storytelling to her first grade students. When she moved to Austin, her great joy was teaching art to children at her home. Watercolor, collage and rug-hooking are the mediums she enjoys, but she's always up for learning something very different. Learning about the great artists never gets old. She's been in love with Rousseau for the past few years.
Still You Let Them Live
Courtney Thrash, Still You Let Them Live, 2020, acrylic and pastel on canvas, 17 x 11 in.
Just a few days before the beginning of a period of acute suffering, I began a Bible study by Nancy Guthrie entitled The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms and Wisdom Books. What I learned in that study (particularly through the study of Job and the Psalms) is that expressing our emotions to God in prayer is part of what it means to be his creatures in relationship with him. Throughout Job and the Psalms, the authors cry out to God in the midst of their distress and express a range of responses from anger, pain, and sorrow to reverence, hope, and joy.
As a creative (and an enneagram 4), this kind of comprehensive emotional inclusion comes naturally to me, but at some point in my early life, I had internalized a notion that Christian women should be always subdued in expressing emotion. Studying Job’s and David’s responses to their own suffering during one of the most painful and emotionally charged seasons of my life helped me to reconcile the importance of self-discipline with the freedom of self-expression.
I set out to paint a visual representation of my own personal psalm. Like David, I allowed myself to feel all of the emotions associated with that period of suffering, while, in Guthrie’s words, disciplining myself to “remain grounded in covenant faith.” In this piece, I see my pain, sadness, rage, apathy, sorrow, hope, joy, faith, release, and Yahweh’s unfailing faithfulness.
I believe both (creating as a way to process a challenging time or creating inspired by what I've already processed) have been true for me and my art at different times and in different ways. I tend to create either at a very base, gut level or a very conceptual, abstract level. Rarely do I find myself in a creative space while I am doing the literal, conscious work of living a challenge.
I would love for others to explore and embrace the harmony between the freedom of honest expression and the grounding security of covenant faith. Prayer can be more than speaking or listening, it is healing and humbling and unifying and glorifying, and emotions are allowed.
“In times of distress we can give in to endless introspection and self-pity and stay right where we are—dry, drowning, needing deliverance. Or we can bring our distress before God and let him flood our lives with living water.” – Nancy Guthrie, The Wisdom of God