Easter & Good Friday Artwork 2019

Person

Our artwork for Easter and Good Friday this year was done by Bruce Butler of Art /Rhetor. In addition to being a graphic designer and artist, Bruce co-leads a Gospel Community and often plays electric guitar at Park Church (and all around Denver). Most recently, Bruce has also joined the team at Sweet Bloom Coffee as a barista.

Piece

This piece aims to represent all that we celebrate on Easter. The white line coming in from the left represents Jesus entering into the sinful world in purity, as joined by the darker lines made from images signifying death. The left hand illustrates His work on Good Friday: the climax where all the consequences of our rebellion from God met in Jesus, were taken on by Him, and He died under the wrath of God and at the hands of sinful men.

Between the two hands, the darkness and hopelessness of the 3 days Jesus lay in the tomb is illustrated. For his followers, and I imagine for Satan himself, this time must have been a space where sin and death seemed like it had won. Though Jesus had foreshadowed His resurrection (John 2:19, etc.), the visceral reaction of seeing a close friend and leader you believed to be God incarnate viciously beaten and slain must have put the disciples in a state of deep pain and shock.

However, as we know, Jesus rose from the grave on the third day, claiming victory over sin and death. Sin and death’s reign over humanity came to a conclusion at the work of Jesus’ still-pierced hands (John 20:27). Now the life of Jesus, experienced by those who physically met him hundreds of years ago, is a light still continuously shown and refracted, able to be experienced by all who put their faith in Him through the Holy Spirit. This is illustrated by the right hand, where on the other side of Jesus’ death was a radiant joyous life that flows forever.

Click the image below to enlarge.

Exodus Artwork

The artwork for our Exodus series was illustrated by hand by Christian Robinson of Oklahoma City. If that name sounds familiar, or if the style of the artwork looks familiar, it’s because Christian was our artist for Genesis as well. As such, the artwork for Exodus serves as fitting follow-up to Genesis.

The book of Exodus, in short, is about God’s mission to redeem a people for His kingdom in this world. Christian’s artwork, in three pieces, illustrates the narrative of the book:

Part One depicts Egypt and the way out of it. Egypt’s God-rejecting kingdom is symbolized by their man-made glory-mountains (the pyramids) and false gods (represented by the hawk, symbolic for Ra). The stalks of straw speak to Israel’s oppression and the cruelty of their overlords (ch. 5), while the path and the blood over the doorway describe the ultimate trajectory of the story as seen in the Passover and the people’s flight out of Egypt.

Part Three depicts Mount Sinai and Moses. Images on this piece show a direct contrast to the images on the Part One panel—instead of man-made mountains and false gods, Mount Sinai (an actual God-made mountain) looms in unapproachable glory and gloom and fire and smoke and the presence of the only true God. Moses in the foreground represents both God’s leadership and His giving of the Law, His means for His redeemed children to be holy.

Part Two, the central piece, shows the path through the Red Sea: a sort of climax to the story, God’s final crushing of Pharaoh, and the gateway between the first and second half of the narrative.

As in Genesis, the three pieces are printed on large birch wood panels. Parts one and three hang on the sides of the stage, while part two hangs in the gallery and is shown on-screen in the sanctuary.

Teach Us to Pray Artwork

Person

Our artwork for Teach Us to Pray was done by Bruce Butler of Art /Rhetor. In addition to being a graphic designer and artist, Bruce co-leads a Gospel Community and often plays electric guitar at Park Church (and all around Denver).

Piece

The image includes three rhetorical elements:

First and most prominently, the six wings represent the six appeals in the Lord’s prayer—three “Your” appeals (“hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”) and three “us” appeals (“give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts…, and lead us not into temptation”). Additionally, the four living creatures from Revelation 4 in the throne room of God are described as having six wings and always being in the presence of God, speaking the holiness of His name! As a result of our union with Christ, our prayer is always before our Father in heaven, to whom we are instructed to pray “hallowed be Your name.”

Second, the mountains in the center of the image suggest the loftiness this simple prayer and also remind us of the Sermon of the Mount, from whence we get the Lord’s Prayer.

Lastly, and most subtly, the upside-down triangle speaks to the subversive kingdom of Jesus, wherein the first are last, the greatest is as the slave of all, and the people seek first the kingdom of God, simply asking for their daily bread in return.

Ephesians Artwork

Person: Benjamin Rogers

We commissioned Benjamin Rogers to create an original art piece for our series in Ephesians. Benjamin is a full-time instructor of art at Red Rocks Community College. He has an MFA in painting from Arizona State University and his work has been exhibited across the country. He based his work for this piece on several arguments from the text. Here’s how he describes it…

Piece & Process

In creating this piece, I tried to visually connect some of the themes present in Ephesians. Many of these themes are somewhat unrelated in subject matter, so I had to develop a way to allude to them in a tangential manner. This essay isn’t intended to explain 100% of the meaning within this piece, but simply to give you some insight into my thought process.

Ephesians 2:19–21 talks about people in the church as “…no longer being aliens and strangers but members of the household of God”. This led me to use vastly different imagery within the same piece in a way that felt cohesive. The resultant image is almost collage-like, but the overall feeling, if nothing else, emphasizes the colorful top layer over top of the monochromatic(ish) layers underneath. This visually communicates a theme of blossoming, new life, as if waking from a dream.

The bottom visual layer is a pattern made from the life cycle of the cicada. I used the cicada’s life cycle because they remain under the ground for 17 years as nymphs, then emerge and molt their shell and live in the light of day for a couple of weeks and die. This process of climbing out of the ground and living in the light reminded me of Ephesians 4:22–24. This was the inspiration for painting moths and butterflies, as well as the life cycles of a frog and monarch butterfly. The bottom and top layers act as conceptual bookends illustrating the same concept. However, one is generally thought of as beautiful while the other is generally thought of as gross. I really like this dichotomy and think that it is pretty illustrative of human institutions.

Ephesians 4:1–16 immediately alludes to a physical body, which only functions properly when all organs work together in unity. This illustration of the workings of the church body is a beautiful analogy, because it demonstrates that there is a lot of unappealing, unappreciated work that is necessary for the Church to flourish. My goal was to illustrate anatomical renderings of some essential human organs, some whose function is obvious and well known and others which aren’t as recognizable or well-understood. I used the implied line to demonstrate the working relationship between them.

Perhaps the least recognizable theme illustrated in the painting is that of submission, which arises in Ephesians 5:22 and 6:1–9. My thinking on the theme of submission is that items are to be placed in their proper order. To depict this, I used a spiral staircase, because if the stairs aren’t laid in the correct order then the structural integrity is compromised. If people aren’t willing to submit themselves to the appropriate authority, whatever or whomever that is, then the system is compromised and may fall apart. The staircase also acts as a static visual anchor for the rest of the imagery on the painting. It provides a structure through which the rest of the visual elements can interact.

Psalm 89—Artwork

Learn more about Christ in the Psalms artwork and download artwork guides here.

Person: Irwin Peralta

Irwin Peralta is an oil painter that mainly works with the figure.

Piece

Oil painting.

PROCESS

Psalm 89 starts with praise and the blessing of God’s covenant. However, the mood shifts as the psalmist states that God has brought His anointed low and exalted the right hand of his foes.

First, I observed and sketched from reference that I found. Then, the difficult process of sketching layouts from imagination began. I converted select sketches to digital in order to make monochrome and color thumbnails. As the actual painting began, I applied thinned down paint to get the overall placement. A few tries were needed for me to get the figure in the back to have the feel of light bending around him. The odd colors are to set the figures apart from each other, set the mood, and allow various people to identify with the characters. As always, my intent was to leave the brush strokes showing as much as possible to give the painting life and energy.

Psalm 88—Artwork

Learn more about Christ in the Psalms artwork and download artwork guides here.

Person: Jeremy Grant

Jeremy Grant is an emerging artist and award-winning creative director. He was born in California in 1985. He received a B.S. in Graphic Design and Illustration from John Brown University, (AR), in 2007. Grant has exhibited his collage and assemblage artwork in individual and group gallery shows since 2008. His work uses association to uncover themes of destruction and creation, death and resurrection, and chaos and familiarity. Jeremy Grant currently lives and works in Denver, Colorado.

Piece

Collage

PROCESS

Walking alongside Hemen through this song, I feel the pain with him. I relate to the feeling that “suffering never ends”—there’s always something else. If God cares about me, why have I continued to suffer, so repeatedly, so…pointedly? And all the theological questions about God “causing versus allowing” suffering—we know God is all-powerful, so what’s the difference? Hemen points straight at God and says “Your wrath has swept over me,” and “You have made me a horror to my companions.”

Hemen pulls no punches in this song. He is ferociously real. He brought raw and deep wounding, anger, depression and doubt to the people of God in the form of a song. There isn’t a happy resolution or moral, the song doesn’t give an answer. Psalm 88 ends with a haunting phrase, “darkness is my only friend.”

My response, in the form of this collage, is to acknowledge and honor the pain—to visualize it without rescue or resolution. I get the image of someone screaming in the dark. Struggling to stay lucid through waves of pain. Gasping and sobbing.

“Can you hear me? Are you there?
You are the only one who can save me, God…
Why don’t you answer?
Have you left me alone here? In Sheol?”

A dark figure is at the center, covered in raw red streaks, eyes puffed closed, darkness and fire all around. Sheol, the background, is visualized as ambiguous, formless darkness, creation reverting back to chaos, absent of anything but pain.

The only comfort offered here is the assurance that our pain is real, and our only hope is to be honest about it with each other, and with God. Real relationships will weather the difficult conversations, the anger and the pain. God can handle our honest emotions.

Psalm 87—Artwork

Learn more about Christ in the Psalms artwork and download artwork guides here.

Person: Anna Spickard

My name is Anna Spickard. I’ve been in Denver for a little over three years, enjoying everything the outdoors has to offer. I have always loved art, and my high school art teacher instilled a true passion and confidence in me to embrace my style. I have not formally studied art, but enjoy painting and photography as a hobby, often paired with my love for outdoor adventures.

Piece

Oil painting.

PROCESS

I chose the color palette to mimic the desert tones of Zion National Park, with blues and greens sprinkled in to insinuate abundance, growth, and life in the midst of destitution. Crimson shadows add depth to the painting and remember Jesus’ death, resurrection, and redemption.

I began my creative process began by reading and studying Psalm 87 and other places in scripture where the holy city of Zion is described. My anchor verses include Psalm 87:1,3, and 7, and Ezekiel 47:12.

Oil paint has always been my preferred paint type because of the texture it provides. It can be smoothed into silky lines with a brush or layered with a palette knife to create a rough texture. I used both techniques in the composition of this piece. As I began painting, I referenced a photo of a lush valley in Zion National Park, using this visual to frame the piece. As I continued, I found myself getting stuck as I referenced the photo. I took a few days to reset, and came back with fresh perspective. I chose to stop looking at the photo and let my imagination take hold. It was during this iteration that loose strokes and fresh colors appeared to create the free-flowing and bright piece that you see today.

Psalm 86—Artwork

Learn more about Christ in the Psalms artwork and download artwork guides here.

Person: Benjamin Rogers

Benjamin Rogers is a full-time instructor of art at Red Rocks Community College. He has an MFA in painting from Arizona State University and his work has been exhibited across the country.

Piece

Acrylic and oil painting.

PROCESS

This painting exhibits the goodness of God in his protection from the surrounding chaos.  In this piece I have used a hippopotamus as a symbol for David, painting him in a manner that demonstrates how he is outside of the danger of the attacking lion. In this way, it shows that God is faithful and merciful to David. The scene in the background is difficult to discern at first, but when viewed at a distance, it becomes more obvious that it is a lion attacking a water buffalo in an African savanna. It is further obscured by the arcing lines throughout the painting which create a more chaotic scene and make the imagery more confusing. I used this device to communicate the natural world of the flesh, which is juxtaposed with the clearer and calmer hippo which peacefully grazes away from danger.

To create this piece I made a quick monochromatic acrylic painting of the lion attacking the buffalo. Next, I covered the entire surface of the painting with masking tape and drew out the designs of the arcing lines.  Once I had the shapes drawn out, I cut out the shapes with a razor blade and removed the negative shapes, leaving a masking tape stencil on the surface. Then I painted the lion attack in a very gestural manner so that it would only be visible from a distance. Finally, I painted the hippo on top as the final layer in oil paint.

Psalm 85—Artwork

Learn more about Christ in the Psalms artwork and download artwork guides here.

Person: Hannah Wood

I am a student at Colorado Christian University, a team leader for Intermountain Young Life, and a backpacking guide for
RMR Backcountry.

Piece

Painting, Poured art.

PROCESS

This piece describes the crux of Psalm 85— the harmony and restoration that manifests in God’s peace and righteousness colliding.

When I read through Psalm 85, I knew instantly what I was going to paint. I usually paint portraits or abstract poured art, so I decided to combine those for the first time in this piece. I am honing in my painting style and that combination just worked so well with the message of Psalm 85. As I made this painting, I became increasingly more aware of what a small, manageable reflection of God’s character this painting represents, and that His mystery is far more beautiful than I could attempt to capture.

Psalm 84—Artwork

Learn more about Christ in the Psalms artwork and download artwork guides here.

Person

Katie Riehl

Piece

Acrylic painting.

PROCESS

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does He withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in You!

(vv. 11–12)

The message that I get from this passage is the constant reminder of the light of God. It’s no secret that this world is full of darkness, it’s something we are reminded of daily on the news and in our personal lives. Sometimes the darkness can be all- consuming. Psalm 84 tells us to lean on God to find our strength, to find our shield. From the start, I fought the simplicity of this piece. I kept feeling like I needed to add more but nothing felt right. The yellow circle represents the light of the Lord with its size being all-consuming, while the blue represents the gloom that sometimes devours us. This quote from F.B. Meyer sums Psalm 84 up in a wonderful way, “How God suits Himself to our need! In darkness, He is a Sun; in the sultry noon, a Shield; in our earthly pilgrimage He gives grace; when the morning of heaven breaks, He will give glory. He suits Himself to every varying circumstance in life. He becomes what the exigency of the moment requires.”

“Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set in pilgrimage.” In Psalm 84:5–7 we read of those traveling through the Valley of Baca on their journey of pilgrimage to Zion. It is implied that although this might not be the easiest migration, the traveler gains the strength, by leaning on God, needed to reach their final destination—the House of the Lord. This is something we can apply to all of the journeys we take—big and small, whether it’s a 30 minute trip or something that lasts our entire lifetime!