Saint Eustace Fine Art
Cover Art : One or the Other by Duncan Simcoe
Touch, Anoint, and Heal
About the Exhibit
It was not mere metaphor that caught Peter’s hand when he sank beneath the waves! God invades material reality to stir our ordinary, tangible world toward his extraordinary purpose. And Jesus, God incarnate, embodied the Divine fully as he touched, anointed, and healed those who drew near to him. Traced through all of Scripture, the finger of God inscribes the law on stone, imparts the word to willing lips, encourages John the beloved in Revelation, and continues to animate our day-to-day. The exhibit seeks to bring the touch of God down from the lofty ceiling of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and into day-to-day corporeal reality. This exhibit features 31 original works of 2-D and 3-D art created in a variety of media.
CIVA is grateful to Apostles Anglican Church in Lexington, Kentucky for their generous gift in support of this exhibit. This exhibit opened December 2012 at Apostles Anglican. For a complete list of CIVA shows visit our Traveling Exhibits page.
Anointing marks a symbolic exchange from one condition to another. In the earliest centuries of the church, the bodies of the newly baptized were anointed with oil immediately upon leaving the water. The word “Christ” means anointed. By being anointed, the newly baptized were mystically sealed into Christ’s inheritance as God’s anointed sons and daughters.
Michael Buesking’s Healing of the Blind Man is a powerful anamnesis of the events of John 9:
Having said these things, he [Jesus] spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (John 9:6-7 ESV)
WangLing Stokes Chou illustrates this same event is her piece, Angel’s Wings, a press-molded ceramic bottle with printer transfer and china paint. An intimate size, the bottle itself could be one used for anointing. Its coupling with the image of Christ anointing the eyes of the blind man reinforces the symbolic efficacy of having been anointed.
Delro Rosco’s Purifying Presence offers an alternative interpretation of anointing for this exhibition, that of the artist’s act of anointing or setting apart the work of art. In Rosco’s piece, sumi ink and mineral pigments are allowed to pool on the Japanese Kochi paper. The paper receives this anointing and the mystical dialogue between artist and artwork begins. As such, common materials areoffered in humility as the artist draws near to God in his prayer made visible.
Touch... Anoint... Heal : God With Us
Lives are so easily wounded. Our world is full of the broken—those who have been scarred by hate, hurricanes, illness, accidents, war, family, and our own poor choices. Healing is the restoration of wholeness, a return to the way things were meant to be. Healing requires a past event, a time when something went awry. Perhaps a cell mutated and then multiplied. Maybe two parents were, for a season, present but now there is only one. The artist can be a prophet for healing, and many pieces in Touch, Anoint, and Heal: God with Us reflect this calling.
Lorie McCown’s mixed media fibers piece, Lazarus II, calls forth recollections of the biblical story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, but it also calls attention to the rituals of preparing the dead for burial, as the fi gures that are wrapped and bound in their shrouds attest to.
The struggle of the psalmist’s voice is beautifully captured in John Bergmeier’s mixed media screen print, Psalm 90 v.5 and 6. Both death and redemption dance on the lips of the psalmist, and Bergmeier’s piece deftly captures the tension between righteous judgment and the incomprehensible grace of salvation.
Tim Lowly’s diptych of his wife, Sherrie, and his daughter, Temma, titled (Wonder/Wander), shows the wholeness and healing of the deepest form of love—a love that transforms the darkness of guilt into the gift of profound love, loving someone simply for who she is. This healing love is a gift, a gift that anticipates the final redemption and wholeness of all creation in the New Jerusalem.
As you view the works in Touch, Anoint, and Heal: God with Us, remain open to the possibility that God may reveal his presence to you through the work. Invite the Holy Spirit, living in you, to connect you to the work of these artists who responded, with their unique voices, to the Spirit’s moving. Perhaps the work will touch you in ways you cannot anticipate. Permit the artist’s anointing to cover you; remember that you too have been set apart. Finally, may the healing of the Lord find you by instilling on you his perfect peace in all circumstances.
Richard W. Cummings
Praise Him for my constant need to touch,
Praise Him because he didn’t remain a good idea.
—Duncan Simcoe, artist
These beautiful words of artist Duncan Simcoe, whose work appears in the exhibition Touch, Anoint, Heal: God with Us, invite us to consider the profound theological connection between the material of the creation and the Incarnation of God.
In Christ, God condescended to take on our flesh and to dwellbamong us. At creation, God breathed life into dust (Gen. 2:7). In forming humankind from the dust, ex creatis, God became the first to sculpt from his own created material—the fi rst to shape a new form out of the raw material of his ex nihilo creation. The mystery of the Incarnation is that God glorified dust by filling it with his presence. Christ took on our flesh. The invisible God became visible. The untouchable God became a fragile infant held in a mother’s loving arms. Still fully God, Jesus became fully human so that he could reach out his hand to heal those who were broken.
He stretched out his arms to take our place on a cross of shame. In triumph over death, his body arose, and in his perfected flesh, complete with scars, he ascended to the right hand of the Father.
As Simcoe suggests, Christ didn’t just remain a “good idea” in the mind of God. He came down from heaven so that he could touch. He came to anoint our eyes that we might see. He came to heal us from our shame. He came as our Emmanuel, God with us.,Praise be to God, by his Spirit he is with us still!
Ikonic Mixed-Media Construction
25”h x 20”w x 3”d, 2003
Touch, Anoint, Heal: God with Us brings together the work of thirty artists from all across the United States and Europe, some having travelled from as far away as Hawaii and Germany. These pieces encompass a wide variety of media, including photography, painting, sculpture, pottery, fi bers, digital and mixed media. As the juror for this exhibit, it was a considerable challenge to choose from the over three hundred artworks sent in for consideration. The quality of the submissions was excellent, and it was diffi cult to pare the number of works down to a manageable size for a travelling exhibition. Sadly, many excellent works had to be excluded simply because of space.
The title of the exhibition, Touch, Anoint, Heal: God with Us, presumes the importance of material physicality and existence. The three verbs in the title necessitate a physical state of being. Touch implies the ability to feel. To anoint is to set something apart. Healing is a restoration to wholeness. The works selected for the exhibition demonstrate the embodiment and relationship between these facets of sensual humanity as they relate to the reality of God’s continuing presence in creation. Key to the interpretation of this exhibition is the role of the artist’s touch as she or he produces the work. How does the artist employ his chosen medium to set a subject apart as sacred? How does the artist bring healing to a broken world through her work?
Touch is communication. It is both enacting and receptive. A punch to the gut tells a different story than the caress of one’s beloved. Nonetheless, as one of our five senses, touch offers a unique means of communication. We know by touch differently than we know by taste, smell, hearing, or sight. The artist is intimately acquainted with touch; a brush across canvas feels differently than a brush against wooden panel. A potter throwing on a wheel works primarily by feel. Even the digital artist will, by touch, know the intimate curve of the mouse and the feel of the tablet’s pen as knowledgeable fingers instinctively move to keyboard shortcuts without concern for sight.
Explore Bruce Herman’s The Persistence of Vision or Edward Knipper’s Christ and Peter on the Water. The artist’s hand is noticeably present, communicating and enhancing by his touch the reality of our embodied souls. Flesh is real, beautiful, and frail. Doubt, a mixed media on canvas piece by artist-turned-priest Craig Geira, references Caravaggio’s famous painting, Doubting Thomas. In it Geira focuses the viewer on the action of Christ as he draws Thomas’s hand, and metaphorically our hand, into his wounds. The blackened clerics clothing reminds us of the shame and death that he bore in his body for us. In the wounds of our savior we are reminded of the cost of grace.
About Richard W. Cummings
Richard W. Cummings is an artist, designer and Associate Professor of Art at College of the Ozarks where he is also the Director of the college’s Boger Gallery. He received his B.A. in English literature from Milligan College and his M.A.F.A. in studio art from the University of Leeds in England. Cummings has exhibited nationally and internationally and his work has been featured in Christianity Today online and in Ruminate Magazine. Richard is currently a doctoral candidate at the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies.
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