Power & Weakness

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“For the great and powerful of this world, there are only two places in which their courage fails them, of which they are afraid deep down in their souls, from which they shy away. These are the manger and the cross of Jesus Christ.

No powerful person dares to approach the manger, and this even includes King Herod. For this is where thrones shake, the mighty fall, the prominent perish, because God is with the lowly. Here the rich come to nothing, because God is with the poor and hungry, but the rich and satisfied he sends away empty.

Before Mary, the maid, before the manger of Christ, before God in lowliness, the powerful come to naught; they have no right, no hope; they are judged.”

Words: Bonhoeffer

Pic: Banksy


Transforming Hope

Image result for themba tower 2 led hope

It’s a disused Phone tower in downtown Johannesburg,stuffed with thousands of plastic bottles with LED lights in each.

Erna Buber-deVilliers writes: “Who would have imagined the thing of profound beauty that they could become? It seems as unlikely to happen as for a King to be born in a stable.”

The project is a collaboration between  a street artist known as “r1” and Isaac Thomas, a local homeless man who collects plastic bottles for a living.  The artist said: “I wanted Thomas to be able to give a new connotation to the junk he collects, and to his life which it represents. I wanted him to be proud of it.”

There are LED lights inside the bottles that turn the tower into a beacon at night, but the bottles contain something more. They contain the hopes and dreams of hundreds and hundreds of people in the form of words written on slips of paper, rolled up, and placed inside the bottles.

Faith expressed in prayers, and tiny evidences of hope.

Emily Dickinson:

‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.


Lenten Conversations 2

Image result for art power weakness

“For the great and powerful of this world, there are only two places in which their courage fails them, of which they are afraid deep down in their souls, from which they shy away. These are the manger and the cross of Jesus Christ.

No powerful person dares to approach the manger, and this even includes King Herod. For this is where thrones shake, the mighty fall, the prominent perish, because God is with the lowly. Here the rich come to nothing, because God is with the poor and hungry, but the rich and satisfied he sends away empty.

Before Mary, the maid, before the manger of Christ, before God in lowliness, the powerful come to naught; they have no right, no hope; they are judged.”

Words: Bonhoeffer

Pic: Banksy

“Forget your perfect offering…”

Anna Sikorska: SALT, 2017, porcelain, cords and lightbulbs.

There’s a lovely line in a Leonard Cohen lyric:

‘Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.’

It forms the subtext explanation of Anna Sikorska’s SALT installation, pictured above. The project was installed in the Light Well of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, England during November and December 2017. It was the culmination of the Light the Well community art project in which individuals from across St Martin’s – church congregation, Chinese community, clergy, staff and members of the International Group – gathered together over time and tables of clay to carefully form the porcelain lanterns which filled the Light Well. Each porcelain lantern was filled with light from a simple string of lamps.

Conversations around the tables when making the lanterns touched on ‘cracked pots’, the continental tradition of ‘St Martin’s day’ paper lanterns, networks of sea buoys, St Paul describing light inside clay vessels, the fragility of our lives and bodies, ‘broken but not crushed’ and those lines from Leonard Cohen.

 The lanterns are glazed ceramic globes whose size, surface decoration and character differ, although the base material – and overall look – is consistent white ceramic, roughly made. In the Light Well these lanterns were joined together with cord covering the stone floor in a random constellation. The cord also connected a light bulb within each lantern, so each one shone from within and glowed because of the translucency of porcelain.

Porcelain, like all clay, is malleable when wet and able to be moulded and shaped but, once formed and fired, is firm but fragile at one and the same time. Porcelain, however, unlike most other clays is also translucent, meaning that light can be seen through it. It glows with a transparency individual to itself. All these aspects of porcelain are factors in 2 Corinthians 4:7, which say that ‘we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.

 If the clay jar, the container of the light, were to be perfectly formed, then the light inside would not be seen from the outside. The light of Christ would effectively be hidden. People would look at our perfect life and not at Christ, because they would only see us. Instead, St Paul says, because we are not perfect and have difficulties and flaws we are like cracked clay jars. Which means that it is clear that where we act or speak with love and compassion, this is because of Christ in us rather than being something which is innate to us or simply our decision alone.

He used this image of light in containers seen through cracks or thin translucent clay to assure the Corinthian Christians that they had the light of God in their lives, despite the fallibility and frailty of those lives.

 The cracked translucent lanterns of this installation lit from within are a visible realisation of St Paul’s image of light in clay jars. By linking the lanterns together, this installation also highlights another aspect in 2 Corinthians 4. Paul writes that ‘We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.’ Paul writes of us in the plural. We are afflicted, but not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. It is as we come together to engage with affliction, perplexity, forsakenness and being struck down that we carry in our body the death of Jesus and show the life of Jesus. It is as we come together, linked, like the lanterns, by the light of Christ that we become the Body of Christ.

These verses picture us as fragile clay or porcelain containers. Each of us are like cracked or translucent clay jars because of our flaws and vulnerabilities. It is through these lines of stress – the suffering, rejection and scorn with which we engage – that the light of Christ is seen. It is as we join together in living for the sake of others – linked together as the lanterns are linked in the Light the Well installation – that we become the Body of Christ and reveal him most fully in the world. In this way, this installation shows us what it means to be the Body of Christ – the Church – in the world today. When we come together as fragile individuals glowing with the light of Christ in and through our fallibilities, we are the Church as it is intended to be.

Reblogged from Light in Clay Jars  by Jonathan Evens  Artway Visual Meditation January 7, 2018  www.artway.eu


mutebi.jpgCalled to be an Artist and a Social Activist

Fred Mutebi (1967) is a Ugandan artist, who makes art to communicate about complex social and environmental issues. With his organization Let Art Talk he strives to achieve positive change in Uganda. About the society and the contributions of politicians, scientists and religious leaders he says:

“We have arrived at a moment in which we have to use our talents, wisdom, knowledge and experience in order to preserve ourselves and the planet we live on. It is time to respect each other and listen to each other regardless race, gender, profession or age. Our ancestors were raised with wise proverbs and sayings. Where are the wise people of the present modern society? Jesus spoke in proverbs and parables, scientists contribute to the solution of human problems, visual artists inform people in metaphorical ways. Art can help achieve peace and harmony among people.”

Fred Kato Mutebi is not only a master in the technique of the woodcut, he also connects with the viewer through the narratives in his work. To focus our attention on the stories about the struggles in his country and the world, Fred Mutebi chooses his characters and details with care. By way of these images and symbols we can identify with the reality and currents events in his country. Presently there are many orphans in his country due to the destruction of families and the HIV-Aids epidemic. Uganda is also afflicted by regional conflicts and the worldwide battle for natural resources.

Ensobi Yaani (Who is to Blame?)

The multi-colour woodcut-print Ensobi Yaani (Luganda for Who is to Blame?) deals with Fred Mutebi’s inner struggle in relation to his country and our world. He made it when the FIFA Worldcup was going on in South Africa. The players are entangled in battle and their arms, legs and torsos are chaotically entwined. This symbolizes the problems that pile themselves up in Africa. “How can we prevent Africa from being placed in the shadow of the monumental world problems?”, Mutebi wonders – problems connected to poverty, hunger, war, sickness and illiteracy, infant mortality and the ill health of mothers, but also to environmental destruction and sustainability.

On the ball a map of the African continent is depicted. The keeper, who just misses catching the ball, appears to be split in two as if he plays for both teams. The lively colours and patterns of the uniforms make clear that is it is not only about the people of Africa, but also about the environment, by referring to the wildlife of Uganda.

Series: Women Activists, Then and Now I

 In the series Women Activists Now and Then Fred Mutebi focuses on the many roles women play in Ugandan society, from the anonymous sellers of goods of the past to the activists of the present. He portrays their struggle to survive, but also their importance. Characteristic is the double use of the eyes, which he employs to show the mutual connectedness that is so typical for African women. Their facial expressions are content.

​Serie Women Activists, Then and Now II

In the second series of woodcuts the age and individuality of the women is lost. The changing intensity of the colours refers to the passage of time. The sealed lips, the broken necklaces and the small masks (below to the right) point to the oppression of women.

​Task Force Marabou

 “When these birds gather, it seems like they are busy with a meeting about real problems: where do we go to get our next meal. Comparable to the endless meetings of people rendering no results.”

In Mutebi’s work the marabou is a symbol for the politicians in Uganda. He calls them ‘the devourers who only think of themselves.” Mutebi uses the animals that are native to Uganda as symbols. Zebras with their powerful hearing and eyesight for instance are a metaphor for alertness. Butterflies symbolize renewal.

In Task Force Mutebi humanizes the garbage hunting marabou. This bird has an almost bold, dirty-pink head with a hanging crop. In the work we see the large bill and the gular sac, which functions as storage for food. Marabous like to live close to people and in the company of their kind. They eat animals alive and dead, for instance fish, grasshoppers, frogs and mice, but also crocodile eggs and bird chicks. Their bodies and heads are here so close to each other that they merge into an ominous mass. The marabous seem to be talking with each other, but they are really looking for the satisfaction of their own needs and not for a real meeting with each other. In this way Mutebi refers to the problems of his country.

​Crest Crane in Flight

Crest Crane in Flight reveals Mutebi’s warm heart for his country. This bird is the icon of Uganda and is depicted in the Ugandan flag. The artist stylizes the original form of the birds, so that they express what he wants them to tell. As an artist and teacher Mutebi deems it of great importance that art is used to inform people, especially the younger generation, about the problems in his country. This group of birds is united in flight: with their wings spread out and their heads down they are all heading in the same direction. The setting sun in the background emphasizes that they are headed for a peaceful future. Even though the problems in Uganda are complex and the hardships many, Fred Mutebi does not leave the viewer behind without hope.

Through the exaggeration of natural forms in his prints he is able to reveal their drama and beauty. Some of his subjects can be very disturbing – such as his rendition of figures revealing humanity’s fragility in the face of catastrophes, in particular those faced by Africans in recent years. However, the tenderness by which these topics are treated always leave room for hope. Mutebi exploits the narrative qualities of the graphic medium, telling stories about important social events that happen in Uganda as well as recording characteristic images of his environment, creating a sort of visual history of his surroundings. (taken over from http://www.inter-visions.com/FredMutebi.asp

 Using art as a tool to empower people to explore and talk about the challenges facing their communities, Fred set up Let Art Talk, an organization that helps open up the dialogue on issues such as poverty, child labour and gender by engaging the mainly young people he works with in interpreting the subjects through art. Fred is also aware of the need to involve the elders within the communities, getting them to share their wisdom and experiences, and together work towards affecting positive change. Committed to the success of the organisation fifty percent of the proceeds from a sale of Fred’s artwork goes into the Let Art Talk organisation to help set up a program, buy materials or fund a trip. https://fredmutebi.wordpress.com and https://www.facebook.com/FredMutebi

Reblogged from ARTWAY  by Marianne Wilts

PENTECOST: Arnulf Rainer


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 Arnulf Rainer: Pentecost, 1998, sheet of 29,4 x 24,8 cm.


 “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. ” (Acts 2:1-4)

The gift of the Holy Spirit revealed itself to the apostles in the speaking in foreign languages. In his book entitled Bibelübermalungen or ‘Bible-overpaintings’ Arnulf Rainer in 160 pages gives expression to the events at Pentecost in a very different way. He does not paint over images taken from art history as he does elsewhere, but makes three completely new images – as if he wants to emphasize the Holy Spirit’s unique power. One of those examples is shown above.

The starting point of the image is at the top. There all lines and colours break forth with concentrated primal power and proceed to gush down onto the earth with a force like that of a hurricane. This super-terrestrial stream reminds me of the promise made by the prophet Joel that in the days that God will pour out his Spirit he will ‘display wonders in the sky and on the earth, blood, fire and columns of smokeʼ (2:29-30).

For the prophet these signs are full of wonder as they mean liberation. On the one hand red refers to the blood of Christ by which he released us from our sins. On the other hand red and yellow point to the fiery force of the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit is warmth and light – light that will reveal the truth (Isaiah 32:15-17; John 16:13). He is the love of God poured out in our hearts (Romans 5:5), through which he fires and inspires us to good thoughts and deeds.

To the left and right this storm of flames is accompanied by softer colour tones, lending to this bow a somewhat peaceful character. It makes me think of the rainbow, which God set in the clouds as a sign of the covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:8-17). Did not with Pentecost start something totally new, similar to the time after the flood? God gave his Holy Spirit to all people! Not only to those standing in the main stream, also to those on the fringe, as this image makes me understand.

The painting arouses a longing in me to place myself in this Pentecostal stream of mercy and to let me fill anew with the God’s love, light, justice and peace – in order that I may become fully human, a human being after his image!

 by Patrik Scherrer 

Reblogged from www.artway.eu


“Glimpses of Light”


glimpses of light.jpgIrene Barberis’ 36m long tapestry of the Apocalypse is a major achievement, presently displayed for the first time at the Cathedral in Brussels. For over ten years the internationally established British/Australian artist has been preparing this monumental work of art. She insists it is not an illustration but an evocation of the Book of Revelation. Her aim is not to offer a visual narrative of the 22 chapters of the last book of the Bible. Her purpose is rather to invite the viewer to discover and interpret a series of images in the light of our contemporary culture.

Mixing artistic quotations from the Angers Apocalypse, Giotto, El Greco, Dürer and medieval Apocalypse manuscripts with contemporary imagery, Barberis conveys the perennial message of the text, which appears in full at the top of the tapestries. The title of her artwork indicates her conviction, shared with the author of the Book of Revelation, that after suffering and violence, the heavenly city will come down from heaven bringing peace and divine light. Indeed, far from being a chronological narrative evolving from the beginning to the end of times, this biblical text, written at the end of the first century in a period of persecution of the Johannine communities of Asia Minor, is about the end of the extant world of violence. It is about comforting and encouraging the early Christians in the light of the events of the death and resurrection of the Lamb of God, so as to keep their hope alight in adversity.

Barberis is not first and foremost interested in bringing a visual catalogue of dark apocalyptic events, however fascinating they may be and however attractive they have been to artists throughout the ages. They are of course present in the fourteen tapestries, as violence and evil are part and parcel of our world, but Barberis’ ambition is rather to offer glimpses of light in the midst of this suffering and to strengthen the hope that in the end God will conquer death.

Revelation is another central theme to her impressive work. Using technological innovations which have recently been introduced in weaving, Irene Barberis proposes to read her work under three different lightings. Under natural light, UV-light (use of fluorescent threads) and by night (use of phosphorescent threads), the tapestry offers different appearances, alluding to the process of revelation which gradually allows the reader to discover the riches of a text. This threefold approach highlights the symbolic and metaphorical literary style of the Book of Revelation and urges the viewer to reject a literally reading.

After the series of tapestries by Jan Bondol (1380), Barend Van Orley (1520) and Jean Lurçat (1956-1961), Irene Barberis offers to the 21st century its own Apocalypse tapestry. Its roots in the artistic tradition, its contemporary approach taking into account the exegetical expertise of today, the use of innovative technologies and of images specific to our time, as well as the fact that for the first time a woman artist has embarked on such extensive visual evocation of the Book of Revelation make the Tapestry of Light a milestone in the iconographic history of the Book of Revelation. Through her work of art, Irene Barberis invites the viewer to rediscover a profound text which was written to fuel the hope of mankind.




Irene Barberis: Tapestry of Light, 2017, 14 tapestries of in total 36 m x 3,20 m, wool, cotton, fluorescent and fosforescent threads. Woven by Flanders Workshop, Wielsbeke-Waregem (B).

Reblogged from www.artway.eu

Remember me

Barbara de Reus Kamma: Remember Me, 1992, zeemleer en schroot, 140 x 75 cm.

“I am one who has seen affliction under the rod of God’s wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without any light; He has walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has put heavy chains on me; But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for one to bear the yoke in youth, for the Lord will not reject for ever. Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.” Lamentations 3 (NRSV)


Until He comes
I have sought the darkness
I have been unwise
Since I was young I have hungered
for the sinful life
And when you called I ran from you
Down every easy road
My God have you forsaken me?
Is it too late for my soul?Great is thy faithfulness
Great is thy love

I will wait on the Lord
Until He comes to make me whole
His promise is my hope
His promise is my hope

I have known affliction
Cried rivers from my eyes
I have longed for death to come
To still my worried mind

I will wait quietly for the one I seek
He will show compassion as He brings me grief

I will wait on the Lord
Until He comes to make me whole
His promise is my hope
His promise is my hope
On the CD Until He Comes, 2008, by Ordinary Time
Barbara de Reus Kamma (b. 1933) grew up in New Guinea. During her childhood war broke out and years in concentration camps followed. She has lived in the Netherlands since1946. Her past may be the key to her work. She prefers to use weather-beaten, discarded, used and worn materials.
“The materials need to have gone through something. By including them in artworks I give them a second life, a form of survival. Human beings have a central place in most of my work: alone or together, in joy or sorrow, strong or powerless… and how one survives.”
Her later work, since 1995, is filled with stillness and space. www.barbaradereus.nl

The Rich Man and Lazarus

Pic by James Janknegt

 Displaying James Janknegt De rijke man en Lazarus.jpg


“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’  (Luke 16:19-31)


Wealth can make a person believe they are self-sufficient. That is its real danger. Obviously wealth can buy stuff: sumptuous food, fine jewelry or clothes, fancy cars and houses. It can even provide a simulacrum of friendship or even a mate (everybody has a price, right?) Enough wealth can make a person powerful in business and politics. With enough wealth and power, one can seem totally independent and invulnerable. But wealth cannot cheat death.

And after death comes judgment. How did you use all the riches, position, and power? Merely for yourself or for the good of others?

But self-sufficiency is not just a danger of the rich. I have lived hand to mouth all my life and am fiercely independent. I do not like asking others for help. My natural inclination is to not trust people and, if at all possible, do it myself. But I realized at one point in my life that if I ever wanted to be able to love others, I would have to acknowledge my lack of love, my total insufficiency and allow Love to enter my life.

I let the God who is Love make me a part of himself. I was, in fact, convinced by the man, Jesus, who gave his life out of love for me, who was crucified, died, was buried, and on the third day rose from the dead.


Reblogged from Artway.eu