Thursday, May 3, 2012

Art a Message of Hope for the Bereaved

When I invited the committee members to take a sneak peek at the mural 'Imaginary Landscape', I was surprised and impressed that they articulated a rather subtle objection to my treatment of the 'sunset' motif in the third panel. To refresh your memory, this mural was commissioned to grace a wall of the new ecumenical chapel being constructed as an element of the new Manitou Seniors' Lodge as an adjunct to the Watrous Union Hospital. 

The concept was to come up with a design that would be evocative of a life journey with an uplifting ambiance. It was laid out very clearly that the image must not include any overt religious symbolism but rather, it must only suggest a certain emotional framework with the use of such abstract qualities as color, mood and atmosphere. My initial reaction to this fairly open-ended criteria was to suggest three panels be used as the main suggest a feeling of transition or progression from one state of being to another. Later, I decided to use images of tree, a path, water, sky and light.

 I just wanted to draw your attention to the third panel for this discussion:

The third panel was a bit too foreboding.
It was brought to my attention that the 'dark cloud' at the extreme right-hand side of the panel was perhaps a little too dark and foreboding. Was there any chance that I could peel back the cloud a bit to reveal more of the splendid light? One of the committee members is a Christian Pastor and he explained to me that he intended to use the mural as a talking point to council bereaved families. 

He pointed out that though the image was deliberately non-religious, he nevertheless wished to refer to the artwork in his work with grieving families...and that he needed something in the mural to offer a sense of hope and serenity to his delivery. I was very intrigued to hear him explain how his work with grieving families would spin out of my artwork. Even more compelling were his pleas for a more revealing glimpse of the 'light'. Fascinating!

Though it was not my explicit intention,  the interpretation of the purple cloud was in fact the 'veil of death' by the committee members.
The committee members expressed concern and regret that they felt it necessary to intervene when at the outset they had in fact granted me 'Carte Blanche' with the design...within a certain sensibility relating to the space in which the work was destined to hang. I, on the other hand, welcomed their input and said as much. I found the idea that they could perceive so acutely the subtle symbolic nuances of the piece a testament to the visceral power of visual art to stir up the emotions. 

I was happy to meet their concerns -so diplomatically framed- by repainting that section of sky to introduce more light and to have this light reflecting more brilliantly on the water below. But I was not about to show the shining it would be getting too close to symbolizing the Face of the Godhead. Which is something I am not willing to do, as I feel it is quite preposterous and impossible.

Reworked version of the third panel shows a more brilliant sky with its attendant sparkles on the surface of the water.

 A more brilliant, promising sky.
While I was only too happy to make the modification, I could only go so far with it. The face of the sun remains hidden and obscured by the remnant of the great purple 'veil of death'. I am comfortable with the idea that the 'face of God' remain mysterious and un-knowable. 

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