Prayer Wall (altar piece)
mixed media, 1999 to present
Permanent installation, St. John's Episcopal
Prayer Wall (altar piece)
I have been an art
teacher at St. John's Episcopal School for
fourteen years. Some of my most cherished
childhood memories were experienced in the
classrooms and playground of St. John's when I
went to school here in the early 1960's. Some of
my most cherished adult memories are teaching
art and my daily interaction with my students.
How many people can claim that their jobs are
truly a blessing in their lives?
For years my faith has rested out on the
periphery of my being. Even though I have always
considered myself a spiritual person, I am on a
journey to reclaim my relationship with God. We
all have that ability – it is called prayer.
I heard Bishop Shipps, formally of the Dallas
Episcopal Diocese, speak about icons. I found it
to be of great interest because the central
image in Prayer Wall, I thought of in
terms of being an icon. When I think of
traditional icons, I think how I am seduced by
the gold and its reflection of light. And then
I'm drawn into the steady gaze of the icon
proper. Bishop Shipps spoke of the iconographer
making the icon as a form of prayer and being
"Windows of Heaven".
Being of a Western mind, I'm always trying to
impose a sense of artistic aesthetics on things
that often aren't meant to be discussed in those
terms. What if
an object was not conceived as a purely visual
object, but as an object of contemplation? What
if the Icon were a conduit through which quiet
reflection of that object allowed one to feel
God's presence? Imagine how powerful an
experience that could be.
The central image of Christ and the Virgin Mary
I thought of in terms of a contemporary icon.
The image emerged from a collage that lingered
in my studio for over a year. All the basic
elements were glued in place early on, yet it
lacked a context. I was continually drawn back
to the image, but it hadn't revealed itself to
me yet. In early December of 1998, I affixed the
collage to a canvas painted red and started to
frame it in found, broken, scarred, and
discarded wood and objects.
In explaining to my students my choice of
materials, I told them that I thought we all
came to God, often broken and a little rough
around the edges. I believe that we are refined
through our evolving faith in God and prayer. I
am a creature of impatience and I pray for
patience. I am weak and I pray for strength. I
am more often than not confused and I pray for
clarity and understanding. I have been so
blessed and rich yet I am often poor in spirit.
I am a sinner and I pray for forgiveness. I pray
that I open my heart and mind to the love God
unconditionally surrounds me within.
The Prayer Wall is my attempt to
gain perspective about my own journey in Faith.
It is also a way to invite others to witness to
their own faith and to inspire their own prayers
and dialogues with God.