Before I loose anyone because THIS post deals a bit in religion, I only ask, give it a chance. Towards the end, I included some biblical verses which may very well “offend”. I’ll begin by saying, I have been fortunate throughout my life to have been in contact, acquainted or associated with, befriended and loved individuals from a WIDE variety of religious faiths. Organized and otherwise. Due to the fact that the family of my youth was (at the very least) dysfunctional, I was fortunate to have more sets of grandparents than most kids, and from THAT experience alone, I was exposed to religious “extremes”. Two of my Grandmothers walked daily, to morning church services before breakfast EVERY day. Me in tow! We had a rolling-in-the-aisles Southern Baptist (and there’s nothing wrong with that!) in the mix. . My Step-Dad deeply believed in the Oglala Siouxs’ spiritual determinations. Believe me when I tell you, I have been to the “temple” the synagogues, the cathedrals, community centers, and as Martin Luther King stated, “To the mountain-top…” in my own spiritual quests.
I grew up in a place (Boys Town Nebraska) which exposed me to an even wider smorgasboard of “sacred matters”. I remember growing up with a young man raised up in the Bahai faith, and the “walk around the lake talks” we shared. Bruce wasn’t trying to convert me, but I WAS impressed even then, how well versed he was in the intricacies of his religious upbringings and the things he believed in…
I believe it was in 2005, I began work on this piece, , I was “playing with” camera filters, editing software, a process I call “overpainting” (where I enlarge, then print the photo and much like paint by number, paint it, scan it back into the computer and “play” with it some more before the final canvas print). Experimenting and searching for my “style” and expressing what I felt. Frankly, I wanted to communicate fire, heat, intensity and a melding of the horizon from a Western sunrise I’d experienced on that trip.
I didn’t see it, but AFTER the piece was published and had been “out there” for a while, someone contacted me and began their admonishment. I don’t recall EXACTLY the conversation but it went something like: “I’ve always liked your art and photography. It is very neutral, and without controversy… But this one? I’ll NEVER invest in another of your works”” My thought? “I’m not sure what THAT means!” Then he went on… “This print is extremely controversial.” he said “You’ve mixed politics, religion, and birth, and women’s choices and birth control and the bible and… and… and… And you’re cramming your religion down peoples throats.” “My religion? It’s a sunrise!”
Years ago, I stated in my bio (written by a third-party) that I invited ALL criticism of my work, and this guys opinion was no different. It took awhile. I’d glance at the piece from time to time and ask myself,”I wonder WHAT he saw?” Then it hit me. In fact, I pulled the piece for a while. I dug out “the good book” handed down to me by one of my Grandmothers before moving to Boys Town and I began at the beginning, “Genesis”. I’ll share:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.
Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.
Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day.
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind”; and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food”; and it was so. Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”
Perhaps these passages DO apply to the piece after all. I suppose depending on your religious persuasion, you may very well see the beginning of life, in this work. Come to think of it, I kind of prefer my critics interpretation of the piece more than my own! I even renamed it a few weeks later! I may very well lose a few fans, maybe even gain a few by this work and this writing. But again, I invite ALL constructive criticism.
I’d like to know what YOU see here. Feel free to call, write, comment, smoke signal. Art is about communicating ones feelings thoughts and emotions. MY personal beliefs don’t really come into play here. Though I don’t set out to please everyone, everyones opinion DOES matter to me. I don’t know WHY all of these years later, this persons words still linger with me, but they do.
Thanks for listening….