As an artist

August 28th, 2014

As an artist, I find there is a physicality to the Gospel of Mark that connects with the physical act of making art. It’s a text that seems well suited to a creative response– using my body to connect my own story to the stories I encounter.

Visceral & riotous, Mark’s gospel is all shoving bodies and (sometimes violent) dis-order. Through texture & senses, the dry grit of the desert is refreshed when plunged into water and the stuttering tongue is loosened with spit-laden fingers. Jostling, noisy crowds surround sweat-wracked bodies—sick with fever and the madness of exclusion from community. Deaf ears hear silent foaming screams, a woman bleeding grasps in desperation for a hem & angry hands upend the furniture.

So many of the people we encounter in this gospel– including Jesus himself– are outcasts or scapegoats, a threat to the communal order. Their stories are bursting with the need for inclusion, healing and justice, to be made whole by being accepted in their brokenness.

Four friends lowered a paralyzed man down through an opening in the roof to reach Jesus in the house below. I ask myself, what in me needs healing? I take paper and charcoal – or better still some dirt and make a mark on the page. I allow my own memories to collide with the gospel stories – my own need to be seen, touched, understood, included, healed.

As I scratch and scrawl, I try not to think. I let my hands be honest as I listen to what is in me that is moved by these stories. I demand that what is in me for which I have no words be heard. Just as no justice is ever won by politeness, no outsider who got healing from Jesus ever waited his or her turn.

Every mark I make on the page is me opening up – reaching down as if through a hole in a roof – to a place of deep honesty. It is an act of faith, an expression of prayer:

“If you are there, and you are who you say you are, then heal me.”

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