Wednesday, August 14, 2013

God listens, God speaks.

Ladder to Life
Journaling is recommended by various programs as a way to dialogue with yourself to sort out thoughts, desires, and feelings. The Artist's Way book, therapists, and recovery groups all recommend it for making progress. Did you know the Bible recommends dialogue with the Almighty?

When I was in my early 20s and seeking out the truth, I had a wise, mature woman in my life who told me to "Ask God your questions." Conversations with God have been an adventure through good and bad times. Once you get going, you won't want to ever stop.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New England Hosts Mission Center

Christian Mission, New England
OMSC,  New Haven CT
I learned about the Overseas Ministries Study Center from an ad in Mission Frontiers, a small but effective publication by Dr. Ralph Winter's U.S. Center for World Mission. Finding out that a place like this exists in New England is a bit of a shock in light of the region being the least churched of the entire country. The "OMSC" exists to strengthen world missions through residencies, scholarship, and cross-cultural education. 
Indigenous Christian Art
OMSC Library, with Becka Sisti staff of OMSC 
It also had a residency program for Christian Artists of Asia, however that has been suspended due to budgetary concerns. Their art collection is unique in that the images are created by indigenous Christian artists using indigenous aesthetics. Becka Sisti is passionate about supporting the arts branch of OMSC. She was thrilled to bring us around to see the art on permanent display at the Center. Many are praying it will be reinstated.

I had the good fortune to be a part of the Boston world mission conference that took place in 2010 and helped plan the visual art displays. The OMSC graciously loaned some of their collection for the international forum and it was on view at Boston University Theological School.

Boston University, Missions Conference
2010 Boston Mission Conference
Art by various artists from Asia 
 The Center is one block from Yale University making it convenient for resource sharing with Yale's Institute of Sacred Music, Yale Divinity School, and the vast holdings of the entire University. When you make a trip, be sure to stop in at Yale's art museum! Emmanuel Garibay was the last artist in residence at OMSC. He is now back in the Philippines. The fruit of OMSC is evident across the globe.

Mission Frontiers, Kirsten Borror
Boston U. Hartman Gallery,  OMSC art loan
Art by Emmanuel Garibay

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Confidence in True Love

New England Christian Art
Figurehead from The Shelburne Museum, VT
A wind blows steadily forever in her face. Her skirts, cape, hair blow back and she faces full into the wind.
Superstition inspired the use of these on sailing ships at least from the time of the Vikings. What will ward off evil for me? Do I need to carry a charm? Wear a cross? Hold a pebble? Let the daily drink of His Holy Spirit be the wind that lifts my confidence, my direction, my intention. Song of Solomon, a book in the Old Testament speaks of love. The metaphor is most often interpreted as the love between Jesus Christ and His Church. So who is my beloved? He is Jesus. Who is the wind? It is the Holy Spirit, available to any who call on the name of Jesus.

Awake, North wind,
and come, South wind!
Blow on my garden, 
that its fragrance may spread everywhere.

Let my beloved come into His garden
and taste its choice fruits.
Song of Solomon 4:16

The finest garden and fruits come from the communion of His saints. In America we utterly underestimate the power and blessing of the gathering.We are exhorted to continually gather by the writer of the New Testament book, Hebrews. The followers are together when they receive the Holy Spirit. Jesus promises that where two or more of you are gathered in my name, I will be there also. Do you hear that? "Organized Religion" was spoken out of Jesus' lips. 

Staying centered in the midst of believers who want to follow Jesus is incomparably better than any temporary gratification. Join me in this circle, there is mercy big enough for all. I pray His Spirit leads you in, and activates your being.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy St. Valentine's Day

Roses From George by K. Borror
A number of years ago, my husband came home with a lovely bouquet of roses. It was not Valentine's Day! It was an inspired moment on his part, and I was so pleased with his loving gesture that I memorialized the day with a painting of the gift. I hope you have a lovely memory to cherish on this day, even if your loved one is no longer with you.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Painting Preacher

Edward Hicks (1780-1849) lived in Pennsylvania, was a self-taught artist and Quaker minister. His life as a man of the cloth at times created conflict with his life as an artist. The Society of Friends was not convinced that the use of his artistic talents on something as non-utilitarian as art was in line with their code of behavior. Although these types of disagreements could create discord in Christian community, God's "upper story" is that Hicks' paintings are widely recognized and have outlived his sermons. They stand as a visual witness in at least 24 museums throughout the United States.
Kirsten Borror
Noah's Ark by Edward Hicks, 1846
Noah's Ark was painted late in Hick's career; he would die 3 years after this was painted. Although the content reflects the Genesis chapters 6-9 story of God leading the animals 2 by 2 into the ark in order to preserve them from the coming flood, Hicks has placed the Lion and the Lamb prominently in the foreground to recall a particular biblical theme. Over the course of his lifetime, the artist focused on one passage from the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah. It is from chapter 11, verses 6-8:
The wolf will live with the lamb. The leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the young lion and the young fat animal will lie down together. And a little child will lead them. The cow and the bear will eat side by side. And their young will lie down together. The lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra. And another child will put his hand in the hole of a snake whose bite is poison.
Hicks expresses the sentiment of the passage which is that fear, danger, devouring, and cruelty is transformed by God's grace into gentleness, peace, and innocence. Barriers between people are broken by Jesus and the result is "the peaceable kingdom". The New Testament carries the theme more explicitly in Ephesians 2:16
Christ brought us together through His death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was THE END OF THE HOSTILITY. [emphasis added].
Christ, end our hostilities!
Kirsten Borror
Peaceable Kingdom, E. Hicks

Monday, January 14, 2013

Museum of Biblical Art

 The Museum of Biblical Art is a two room space within the American Bible Society at 1865 Broadway in Manhattan. We recently had a chance to visit for the first time and enjoyed an exhibit of works by Tiffany Studios all pertaining to commissions by churches. The display includes stained glass windows, mosaics, metalwork, interior design proposals, and large scale cartoons for windows.
The Soldier of the Lord by Tiffany Studios
The 'soldier of the Lord' comes from the letters of St. Paul who describes a life of faith as a life at war with the kingdom of darkness. Of course, our weapons are not against flesh and blood but against dark forces in the spirit realm. The laurel on his head indicates victory. Although his attire is copied from Renaissance mercenaries who fought for material treasure, his eyes gaze heavenward because that is where a Christ-follower's fortune is being built. The sword represents the Bible which is the 'sword of the Spirit' that speaks truth, healing, and advances the Kingdom of God. The Tiffany exhibit ends on January 20, 2013.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Visiting the Boston Sculptors Gallery

Last week the Boston Sculptors Gallery made Facebook 'likes' into balloons. To celebrate 20 years of achievement, the cooperative gallery invited volunteers to turn every new like on the gallery Facebook page into a large inflated balloon at the gallery. You can see the gallery as it filled on their page, while the video below has pics of the works and Yours Truly and Son tucked in! Founded in 1992 by 18 area artists, it has become the premiere sculpture gallery of Boston presenting work by contemporary sculptors.

Until January 27th you can see work by all thirty-six current members and fifteen alumni. What happens when passionate people work together for 20 years toward a common goal?
227 exhibitions, 58 sculptors with work in 48 US states and 36 foreign countries, close to 100,000 visitors,
Members have received numerous awards, grants and residencies; taught in 70 settings; generated 169 permanent public art works; displayed 308 temporary public art works; and are included in 1,100 private and public collections.

There will be a talk on January 23 "Sculpture that works with Audience: Kinetic, Interactive, Installation and Public Art". 10 Sculptors get 5 minutes each to present their work and ideas on this topic with a reception to follow. 100 people showed up last time, so don't be late! If you are still hungry afterwards, hit the Red Fez across the street for traditional Middle-Eastern food.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Protection of One Small Flame

Kirsten Borror, North River Gallery
Morning Song by A. Gassel

Alexander Gassel describes boyhood in rural Russia in the 1950's...Trees and children had a special relationship. They were the place to hide, play and rest. We would climb them to check for apples, eat cider nuts, and even do something silly like throw nuts and surprise people passing underneath.

There were kids everywhere playing on the collective farms. Country boys knew everything about how to survive alone in the forest such as  where to find nuts, what mushrooms to eat, how to build a hut; they were wild kids. We could go to the forest and do whatever we wished. Life in the city meant going to the library, playing table tennis, basketball, soccer, and ski-racing.

The forest could be dangerous because of wild dogs. Many were abandoned in the forest by villagers, and they would form packs like wolves.  Sometimes we would be in the woods at night, and it was dangerous because the dogs could surround and attack you. One time when I was with a friend at night alone in the forest we were surrounded by 30 dogs ready to attack. We had a box of matches, and just the single flame of continuously ignited match sticks kept the dogs away. The village remains a special part of my growing up.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wise Men Still Seek Him

The Visit of the Magi to Virgin and Christ
The earliest known depiction of the wise men visiting the Savior Baby Jesus Christ. It is in St. Priscilla's Catacombs in Rome. January 6th is Epiphany "manifestation" for some Christians which is the visit of the wise men. This scene is the most common in early Christian art because it represents the most important message of the gospel. "It is enough to know that God came into the world to show Himself to you, to all," says art historian Elisabeth Lev.  Each figure is a unique color to represent the 3 different known regions of the world at that time. One is Eastern Zoroastorist, the second is the Platonic Greek philosopher, the third is Daniel representing the Old Testament which predicted God's arrival in Jesus, and therefore all the world is coming to worship the pinnacle of truth: Jesus, the Christ, the Savior, the Suffering Servant, the King who came to serve, die and save all people.

You can hear an 11 minute explanation HERE.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Museum of Russian Icons

Alexander Gassel is employed at the Museum of Russian Icons as conservator. This video does a nice job of introducing the museum, and you get a number of close-ups of beautiful Christian art from Russia. There is still time to see 18 of Mr. Gassel's works at North River Gallery. Open during church hours Sunday-Friday and by appointment. Contact Gallery Director.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Parable of A Woman Warrior

“I am a generic Christian, baptized in orthodoxy. Christian should be first, not your denomination. Anything else is secondary; rules, customs, ways of praying, the construction of the church building. None of this is as important as Jesus. Union is much more important than division. Christians should not be so cruel to each other. “ Alexander Gassel
North River Gallery, New England Christian art
Judith by A. Gassel

Judith portrays a daring and beautiful widow who trusts God completely. She is used by Him to deliver Israel from the Assyrians during the time of Nebuchadnezzar. The book of Judith is part of Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Bibles but not Jewish or Protestant ones due to historical inaccuracies. She fearlessly beheads their enemy, whose head in this depiction is discreetly held within the red bag.

This painting is on exhibit at North River Gallery, 334 Old Oak Street, Pembroke MA along with 17 other images by Mr. Gassel. Who is this artist who paints in the Medieval tradition?

Alexander Gassel lives in Massachusetts. He came from Russia to live in the United States 32 years ago. Trained in Europe in art, history of art, iconography, and graphics, he then traveled all over Russia restoring and conserving icons in churches throughout the country. He is employed now as resident conservator at the Museum of Russian Icons, Clinton, MA, and maintains his studio at the Fenway Studios building in Boston. He grew up in the city of Moscow and spent summers with his family in the bucolic Russian countryside.His favorite period in art history and the one he draws inspiration from is early European Medieval style which includes Eastern Icons to the early Renaissance. He uses egg tempura paint, the same paint of the medieval masters, as well as oil on linen.

The modern Russian painters Chagall, Kandinsky, Malevich and others used the same principles of composition that was employed in icon painting. Playing with sharp triangles, contrast of color, texture, and shape and ignoring perspectives of naturalism in favor of storytelling.  The symbolic communication supersedes the importance of ‘painting it as it is seen’. In the medieval mind symbol matters more than the world around us. The spiritual, the dream, the heavenly meaning is valued over the physical, the circumstance, the visible natural world. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Spiritual Battle of St. Anthony

North River Gallery, New England Christian art
The Temptation of St. Anthony by A. Gassel

The Temptation of St. Anthony
There are multiple Catholic paintings of this across Europe. St. Anthony was in the caves, living in the desert, near the cemetery. He came under the attack of demons. The Devil approached St. Anthony with the face of a beautiful woman. Could it be he was in love with a young lady, against his desire to be a celibate man dedicated to God?  He was the founder of the first structured Christian communities known as monasteries in the 4th century. The sliver of light shining on his head is the source of his defense against the forces of Death. It is the light of God supporting him.

Monday, December 24, 2012

No Limits to the Wholeness He Brings

Family Island detail, by A. Gassel
But there'll be no darkness for those who were in trouble... what was in disrepute will He make glorious.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows--
light! Sunbursts of light!
You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy.
Oh, they're so glad in Your presence!
Festival joy! The joy of a great celebration,
sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.
The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants--
all their whips and cudgels and curses--
is gone, done away with, a deliverance
as surprising and suddn as Gideon's old victory over Midian.
The boots of all those invading troops, along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood,
Will be piled in a heap and burned, a fire that will burn for days!
For a child has been born--for us!
The gift of a son--for us!
He'll take over the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow, and there'll be no limits to the wholeness He brings. Isaiah 9

Dragon Slayer is Coming

St. George and the Dragon by A. Gassel

St. George is traveling through a country and comes across a woman in danger. She is a princess held captive by a dragon. He rescues her by killing the dragon.  It is a classical story about right action in the world. Every Knight had to kill 10 dragons. Battling the bad force, protecting the vulnerable, these are masculine behaviors and doing battle 10 times means you've proven your heart is honorable. We always have dragons among us and within us we need to battle, because this world is not perfect. The Devil can take any form he wants and we don’t know what side he may come, but we know he will always find your weak point. You can always push him away. It depends on you.

Jesus is the ultimate dragon slayer. Come see this work along with 18 others at North River Gallery when you come to Christmas Eve services, December 24 at 3pm and 5pm.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Elijah in the Chariot of Fire

Christian Art MA, North River Gallery
Detail of Ascension of Elijah by A. Gassel
This is a detail of a larger, traditional depiction of the prophet Elijah being taken into heaven by God's chariot. Come see the whole painting at North River Gallery. See page above for gallery information.
The story is told in 2Kings 2 "As [ Elijah and Elisha the protege of Elijah] were walking along and talking together, suddenly  a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Family Island

Detail from Family Islands by A. Gassel

Alexander Gassel does paintings which are in the style of Medieval and Early Renaissance painting, but he does not limit himself to Biblical themes alone. There are a few paintings on view at North River Gallery (See page above) which are commentaries on contemporary culture including Family Islands which has multiple figure groupings in it. It is a reflection on what it is to be a family in the United States. “The family builds islands of love where they live and love together. Life is inside the family, and wherever one may go, the family is not apart from them, it is carried with them and they always return to the family. In the old country (rural Russia prior to 1980) all people knew each other. A whole village could be relatives. But in the USA, people live separately, like islands. A village back then may have only 20 houses. If one drinks, the whole village knows it.”

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Come to Me and Rest

Home Builders by A. Gassel

One of 18 works by Alexander Gassel on display at North River Gallery. See page for details. 

Church buildings are built by the hands of people. Divinity wants to be with us. The divine is our parent and we have to respect our parents.  The divine is separate from us, but the divine is near to protect the church, no matter what the evil one intends.

This shaped panel combines early medieval characteristics with dynamic art deco shapes all around the edges. Divine is on the left side of this panel, and the Church is on the right. The outpouring of energy, healing and life is the external ripple effect of the inner work of the Holy Spirit who nurtures, cradles and delights in human beings. He stands at the door of every person's heart, knocking and hoping every one will answer.

Rest a while in the arms of divinity.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Christian Artist from Russia On View

Alexander Gassel, North River Gallery
Tristan and Isolde
Alexander Gassel's work is now up on the walls of North River Gallery. See page for location and information. We spent the morning talking about Russian art, life in rural Russia, the activities of boys and children, Icon painting, art history, and so much more. Before coming to the Boston area, he worked as a conservator traveling all over Russia visiting churches to restore icon paintings. He will be having an exhibit in 2013 at the Museum of Russian Icons where he is employed as a conservator.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sufjan Stevens Musician

Christian music, New England Music, Boston arts
Sufjan "comes with sword" Stevens
I learned about Sufjan after doing publicity for a Rosie Thomas show at Cafe Bella a few years ago. Rosie held us gratefully captive in the chamber setting with her authenticity, tenderness, and exquisite music. She and Sufjan once were rumored to have married, but actually it seems they are good friends and colleagues. I describe Stevens as a "Peter Gabriel meets Jesus", or performance art meets dialogue with divinity. He and Rosie and a few others are going to be in New England in late December at Fete in Providence Friday, December 19 and  The Royale in Boston on December 20. Ticket prices are extremely reasonable. It will be a mix of mystical and comedy as "Sheila Saputo" will be stealing the stage, too. It's time she became a household word.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey Alternative

If you are feeling tired of the same old Thanksgiving turkey celebration, why not start now working on a turkey hat? There's still time to put one of these very cool headdresses together. Do you know what New England art museum has this in their collection? 
Thanksgiving, Yale art museum, mardi gras hat
Mardi Gras Turkey 
Seeing this type of papier-mache sculpture never fails to spark a desire in me to unleash a torrent of giddy color, shape and flash in three dimensions. There's something about hand-crafted sculpture for me, and I'm still trying to define what it is.

Paper mache, new england art museum
Pilgrim's Hat
Maybe you have seen a hat someplace that can inspire us all. If so, please post your pictures here!