About a year ago, following my exhibit at IAM in NYC, Emily Clare Zempel of Spark and Echo Arts contacted me. She asked if I would be interested in joining them on their efforts to make a multidisciplinary illuminated manuscript/Bible.
Here is their mission statement,
"Spark and Echo Arts is creating the world's largest multi-disciplinary illuminated Bible with a piece of visual, performing or literary art covering every passage of the Bible. We commission artists from diverse backgrounds and showcase their works online and at live events in NYC and beyond."
I was offered the theme of memory which is a perfect connection to my work with vernacular photographs. Many people have had quite strong reactions to the work, its sense of loss and partial identities. I cannot help but wonder if they too sense their future and memory in these tangible displaced objects?
Carrying those ideas forward, my goal was to find passages in scripture and allow my work to be moved in some relationship to the passage. While I am generally reticent about illustrating scripture, using it as a text that inspires (no theological intention here) is something quite different. I went back to my seminary class at Sioux Falls Seminary on the Psalms, with Dr. Mike Hagan and began exploring the lament and complaint Psalms again.
Below is the statement I wrote to accompany this piece,
"Since seminary, the Psalms have had a special place in my heart and theology particularly the provocative lament and complaint Psalms as they draw upon memory in such interesting ways. Faith and our utter need for salvation allows Christians to boldly approach God baring the ugly realities of all that is wrong in the world to the only One who can set things aright. The psalmist’s testimonies left nothing out of their purview: praise and bitterness, hope and fear, life and death. In addition to the psalms that convey this emotional gamut, some also contain brute and penetrating questions of Yahweh: Why? Where? How long? These laments (and these questions of complaint) are firmly rooted in Israel’s covenant with God, utilizing memory of the both the individual and community. But more provocatively, many of the Psalms remind God of God’s own past promises and salvific actions. In other words, they remind God to be God.
I chose two Psalms to inspire this work, Psalm 88 and 106. Both use memory in curious ways as alluded to above. The psalmist in Psalm 88 recalls his current desperate circumstances and fears that having been forgotten by God. He then challenges God to recall God’s own attributes and past actions of “wonder”, “steadfast love”, and “faithfulness” in efforts to stir God into saving action once again. Psalm 106 recalls both sides of the covenant: God’s salvific actions on Israel’s behalf, and Israel’s efforts and failures to live out their part of the covenant relationship. The psalmist says, “For their sake he remembered his covenant, and showed compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.”
Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise."
Please take some time to visit Spark and Echo Arts and see some of the other work they have collected.