Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks for a Life in Art

Memories of Coatlaxope (Guadalupe), 1993,
acrylic and copper on wood, 24" x 24"

Twenty years ago, I was in a deep depression. I had left the school where it was clear that I would never get tenure, and had no vision of where to go or what to do next. I felt that I was in a very, very dark place. Then, one day, it seemed to me that God had shone a small spotlight in front of me, illuminating one step that I could take towards an unknown future. That next step was to remember that I was an artist.

I gathered what little energy I had, went to the hardware store, bought some 2' x 2' squares of plywood, covered them with black gesso, and began to paint. Little by little, the image of the Virgin of Guadelupe emerged from the darkness, hidden among tree branches and surrounded by the barest beginnings of flowers. Over the course of the next few days, I completed two paintings that were unlike anything I had ever made before.

As I was completing those works, God lit up another step-stone on my path: the Center for the Arts and Religion invited me to be an Artist-in-Residence at Wesley Theological Seminary. When I accepted the invitation, I had no idea that I would be the director of the Center twenty years later! All I knew then was that someone valued me as an artist when I wasn't even sure that I really was one.

She is a Tree of Life to All Who Cling to Her
(also known as Queen of the Angels of Small Portion)
1993, acrylic and copper on wood, 24" x 24"
Today, I give thanks for everyone who has encouraged me on this strange and wonderful journey, and made it possible for me to spend my life learning, teaching, talking, and writing about art as well as making images that other people value. I am especially grateful to the people who bought those first, two dark paintings that set the themes and images that continue to appear in my work all these years later.

Unfortunately, the only record I have of the paintings are fuzzy, low resolution photographs. So if anyone knows where they are now, please let me know. And, if you can, please take a good, high resolution photo, and send it to me. I will be eternally grateful!


  1. Thank you for posting. Your blog posting really hit home with me, for I'm in that place of reinventing myself. My hope and prayer is that God will speak through the creative process. Blessing to you and yours...

  2. I'm glad that my story gives you hope. Thank you for letting me know. You will be in my prayers.