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A civilization that does not value its artistic expressions does not value itself. Makoto Fujimura

Doug Jaques: Angels Restrained

ArtWay Visual Meditation 24 May 2020

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Doug Jaques: Angels Restrained and Prostrate Petitioner

Praying for Release

by Sandra Bowden

Doug Jacques wrote that these two drawings, Angels Restrained and Prostrate Petitioner, were meant to resonate with each other. The bound men of the left in the first drawing are the same as the prostate man and the sower in the second. They both visually explore the release that prayer and forgiveness offer.

These graphite pencil drawings both have sweeping movement that draws the eye up and across the surface of the paper. The viewer becomes mesmerized looking at the wings and the fields of wheat while being pulled both visually and spiritually into a silent reverence.

What is Doug Jacques getting at in these drawings? Jacques wrote,

In Angels Restrained the men are praying for deliverance from bondage. Here the two men are aware of their spiritual bondage to sin and are praying for forgiveness and release. There is a third party praying with them, a winged figure, an intercessor. The viewers eye (and the prayers of the men in the drawing) travel along the lines of the wing toward the upper right of the picture where there is a bright circular disk, an image of the sun. This is intended to be a play on words and symbols, to represent Christ, the son who sets us free.

At the bottom of this drawing he has inscribed the passage from John 8:31-36 which says, “In very truth I tell you,” said Jesus, “that anyone who commits sin is a slave. The slave has no permanent standing in the household, but the son belongs to it forever. If the Son sets you free, you will indeed be free.”

Prostrate Petitioner finds a man prostate and weeping in a plowed field at night with a smaller figure of a man sowing seed in the background. The two men are meant to be the same person. The intention here is to overlap Psalm 126 with the parable of the sower. The prostate sorry man is the good soil referred to in Jesus’ the parable of the sower. Both the sower and the weeping man are suggested in the passage written at the bottom of the drawing. “Those who sow in tears shall reap with songs of joy. A man may go out weeping, carrying his bag of seed: but he will come back with songs of joy, carrying home his sheaves.”

The elegance and beguiling beauty of these drawings belie the idea of sin, repentance and weeping that the artist has portrayed. This is his point. Coming to God in repentance is not a thing of horror or repulsion. It is a point of wonder and amazement that God welcomes us and offers release.

When an artist tackles a difficult topic and finds new ways to express the spiritual truth with beauty and skill, the work is not easily forgotten. Artists have the ability to uncover what is only partially known or seen by others. They work with material substance incarnating an idea to engage our spiritual imagination. Christians are a people who believe in the reality of the unseen. Art can become a catalyst for how we envision God and help us see the invisible in the visible. Doug Jacques’ two drawings lift us beyond the visual images we carry in our mind, giving us a new way to envision God’s offer of forgiveness and release.

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Doug Jaques: Angels Restrained and Prostrate Petitioner, 2002, graphite pencil drawings, 19 x 28 cm.

Doug Jaques (1946-2013) was a well-known mural painter in Austin, TX and was on the faculty of Austin Community College for 20 years. https://www.dougjaques.com

Sandra Bowden is a painter and printmaker living in Chatham, MA, USA. In 2005 Square Halo published The Art of Sandra Bowden. With over 100 one person shows, her work is in many collections including the Vatican Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, the Museum of Biblical Art, and the Haifa Museum. She is also a passionate collector of religious art dating from the early 15th century to the present. Sandra was president of Christians in the Visual Arts from 1993-2007 and has curated many exhibitions and coordinated the CIVA exhibitions program since its inception. She studied at Massachusetts College of Art and received her BA from the State University of New York. For more information, go to www.sandrabowden.com.

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NEWS

1. SLOW LOOKING WITH VISUAL COMMENTARY ON SCRIPTURE – There are nearly 500 high-resolution works of art now on the VCS website. Each of them rewards thoughtful contemplation in its own right, as well as exploration in the wider context of one of our online exhibitions. The VCS is now offering an alternative way of experiencing its small curated exhibitions – one that encourages slow looking. We will select an exhibition a week and share it with you via our weekly mailout (and on Twitter @TheVCS, and Facebook, @www.theVCS.org. From Monday to Wednesday, the link will take you to just one work of art and its associated commentary. On Thursday, the link will be to the ‘comparative commentary’ which brings the three works together in conversation with a specific scriptural text. We’re choosing our weekly featured exhibitions carefully to anticipate the readings in the widely-used Common Lectionary. These are set for each Sunday of the year, so if you are a VCS user who prepares sermons or other resources for worship the exhibition for each week will provide material that relates to the Sunday ahead. We hope that this attention to the seasons of the year will be enriching for all our other users too. This week’s exhibition opens up a conversation with 1 Peter 4:12–19 in the company of artworks by Marc Chagall, Annibale Carracci, and Stefan Lochner. Links to the individual works and their associated commentaries are tweeted daily during the first part of the week @TheVCS, so that you can focus on them one at a time, and a link to the ‘comparative commentary’ follows on Thursdays. https://thevcs.org/finding-meaning-suffering ; https://thevcs.org/

2. SALVADOR DALI – ArtLyst posted the article ‘Salvador Dalí The Enigma of Faith’ by Jonathan Evens. Read More

3. UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME CALL FOR PAPERS – Art, Desire, and God: Phenomenological Perspectives Conference, online 2– 3 October. Proposals deadline 1 June. What is the role of the desire of/for God in art and aesthetic experience? The exigency of broaching this question at the intersection of philosophy, theology, and art became all the more apparent in the diverse reactions to the partial burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral in 2019, which made manifest the multiple identities that religious art bears in our contemporary world. Theologians, philosophers, artists and others are invited to contribute to a collaborative reflection on the application of phenomenology to the investigation of these themes.  Paper proposals are due by June 1, 2020.  The conference will be moving online. Though hosted virtually at the University of Notre Dame, all papers will be given remotely. www.artdesireGod.com

4. AMERICAN DUTCH AND FLEMISH ART COLLECTIONS ON CODART – Circa 50 descriptions of American Dutch and Flemish art collections are now available on CODART. As of now, circa half of the 100 museums in the USA that hold a significant collection of Dutch and Flemish art have a brief synopsis of their collection on the CODART website. At a glance, you can read about the size of the collection, the main highlights and artists, and which media are represented from which periods. Almost all texts were written by curators of the collection in question. Among the represented museums are of course the well-known collections such as the National Gallery of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, but one can also read about the many regional collections in the US, for example the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, the Birmingham Museum of Art, and the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha. Equally important is the inclusion of fifteen university art galleries with holdings of art from the Low Countries, among which are the Harvard Art MuseumsSpencer Museum of Art, and the Blanton Museum of Art.

ArtWay is a website with resources for congregations and individuals concerned about linking art and faith.

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Other recent meditations:
- May 2020: Anish Kapoor: Ascension
- May 2020: Rick Wieneke: Fountain of Tears
- May 2020: Jonah Swallowed and Cast Up
- April 2020: Karen Sewell: Awakenings I

For more Visual Meditations, see under Artists