Encaustic—the use of heated beeswax and pigment—is a traditional technique that is enjoying something of a renaissance. It’s both highly tactile (with its often thick-textured surfaces) and wonderfully organic both in surface and in fragrance. The earthiness of it makes a great medium for Grace Carol Bomer’s In the House of My Pilgrimage. The artist notes that a line from Psalm 119:54, “Your laws are my songs in the house of my pilgrimage,” has been partially carved into the wax-covered Hebrew text. “Jesus, the Word Incarnate, gives us life and words to live by,” says Bomer. The work is in a traveling exhibition organized by Christians in the Visual Arts.
Rod Sawatsky uses calligraphy to illuminate a faith story. The artist’s eight-year-old daughter Tallie makes Saturday trips with her grandfather to downtown Portland, Oregon, where they feed and talk to people who are homeless. One day Tallie’s mom commented on her relationship with a homeless man named Spider. “It really makes Spider feel special when you make things for him and take time to visit him.” Without any hesitation Tallie responded, “Well, he is special. He’s one of my best friends.” The artist writes: “Tallie could see character qualities in Spider that had endeared him to her. . . . Once we care about people personally and see their incredible value, it is natural then for us to act in a way that supports restoration in their world.”
An epiphany breaks us out of our former mind-set. Jeremy Botts’s The Sun Speaks/The Stars Teach is expansiveness made visible. Energetic red brushwork is laid over a grid structure of circles, stars and crosses. This image evokes for me the term creative disequilibrium—the dynamic that makes evolution possible. Is it not the same dynamic that is still transforming the world through Jesus’ radical teachings of love, inclusion and justice for all?
The seasons of Advent and Christmas offer a spiritual oasis in the desert of our hunger for justice, peace, refuge and meaning. Through her illustrated calligraphy, Tatiana Nikolova-Houston illuminates prayers in the Christian tradition, joining words of comfort and inspiration to sumptuous color and image.