Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, friends!
For our first post this year I'm excited to share a work of art by a dear friend from ConversionStreet Studio, Sarah Norton. I absolutely love her art style and have a couple pieces hung up in my house that pull me out of the here and now and lift my thoughts to the divine as they haunt my attention with their sheer beauty. I'm really excited to share her work with you and invite you into a session of Visio Divina with her work below called "Beacon". It's very fitting with our mission and theme. I would love to hear what it evokes for you in the comments so please share! If you haven't attended our events yet and are new to Visio Divina, here's a brief description of the practice and some practical steps from Upper Room Ministries for you to enter into the session. I invite you to pause, take a deep breath and spend a few minutes encountering the divine through beauty.
Once you've done the exercise yourself (to avoid spoilers!), below the painting Sarah shares some thoughts on what this work is meant to represent as an artist and also how it speaks to her heart!
Visio divina invites the viewer into "divine seeing." Visio divina shares roots with the ancient practice of lectio divina. (Lectio divina calls for a slow, careful interaction with scripture through meditation and prayer, allowing a word or phrase to rise in one's consciousness, a holy word to be savored and examined.) Similarly, visio divina invites one to encounter the divine through images. A prayerful consideration of and interaction with an icon, piece of art, or other visual representation allows the viewer to experience the divine in a unique and powerful way.
Visio divina can be practiced individually or with a group in a small group or worship setting by using a piece of art as a focal point for prayer. Scripture can also be paired with the image in order for the viewer to reflect on the scripture through the art.
Try Visio Divina
Pick out an image from a website, a photograph, painting, or icon.
Look at the image and let your eyes stay with the very first thing that you see. Keep your attention on that one part of the image that first catches your eye. Try to keep your eyes from wandering to other parts of the picture. Breathe deeply and let yourself gaze at that part of the image for a minute or so.
Now, let your eyes gaze at the whole image. Take your time and look at every part of the photograph. See it all. Reflect on the image for a minute or so.
Consider the following questions:
What emotions does this image evoke in you?
What does the image stir up in you, bring forth in you?
Does this image lead you into an attitude of prayer? If so, let these prayers take form in you. Write them down if you desire.
Now, offer your prayers to God in a final time of silence.
Reflection on my painting “Beacon ”:
“Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.”
Perhaps without knowing it, Saint Catherine of Siena defined magnanimity with these famous words. Magnanimity, that is “greatness of soul ” is a central theme behind my painting.
I describe my art quickly to anyone who asks with a silly slogan “Color. Movement. Repeat.” I think this painting is a perfect poster child for the slogan, but with that, it also contains a deeper meaning.
The volume of color used in the flame symbolizes a soul voluminous and magnified by grace, a soul meant to be how God created it. The color is, especially the metallic, reflective of love of God. The color also acts as light cutting through the black trying to reach the ends of the canvas. As missionary disciples, our baptismal call, we are to have a soul reaching to the ends of the earth, loving the lost, praying for the needy. I consider it what a soul could look like in near perfection on earth. Goals right?
Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches us that being human means we must move ourselves. This is the constant human condition, movement. The light in the painting is billowing like that of a torch in a winter storm, but not snuffed, just moving despite the circumstances. I think it also resembles a soul in that way, resilient, and moving, perhaps trudging through the storms of life.
We all desire greatness of soul. When I look at this painting I see a symbol of how I want my soul to burn. It’s totally “eye candy” but a painting deeper than I could have imagined. It’s a soul healed. After grief, loss, illness, pain, trauma, sadness, all those events that come with life, this flame is a beacon, and as a child of God, something I’ll be running towards.
Hi I’m Sarah. I’m married and have four young kids. I like to drink coffee, laugh, walk, and paint. Last year I launched ConversionStreet Studio. It sounds fancier than it is: it’s me painting at home on my kitchen countertop. One of my good friends describes my painting style as using light like an Impressionist, color like a Modernist, and Traditionalist in content. I like that. My paintings are full of color, movement and texture as I explore Saints, holy places, local places, and anything else that lifts my heart, and it’s all painted on canvas and shared. You can find more of my art here and reach me at email@example.com.