Final project for The Bible and Visual Art; Columbia Theological Seminary, Spring 2014.

First, let’s just take a second and appreciate how awesome it is that my seminary actually had a class called “The Bible and Visual Art.” That really was a thing. (Shout out to the OT professor who made it happen.) In said class, we started all the way back with Greek and Roman sculpture, talking about the different ways in which people portrayed divinity. We looked at imagery from cultures all over the world, inside Christian worshiping spaces and outside of them, finally ending with some modern biblically inspired art.

Given the option of making art instead of a paper, I liked the idea of trying to bring together the assorted cultures and styles we’d studied into one cohesive symbol. My train of thought rolled into the station of altar crosses — the ones that often sit up front in a sanctuary on the Table. Ever making use of my stash of recyclables, I made a cross out of some cardboard (a feat that ended surprisingly well, given that I don’t have near the amount of patience necessary for measuring things), and got to exploring it.


Aztec imagery, courtesy of acrylic paint, some old CDs, and modeling clay made from cornstarch, baking powder, and water. The things on this side of the cross were all symbols important to native Mesoamerican spirituality, and were adapted by missionaries to fit in Christian teachings too. Mirrors represented a connection to a different dimension or world. Corn was a sacred substance, subsequently used to make human forms of Jesus that were hung on ceremonial crosses. The Nahuatl people were also taught to say the equivalent of

{Acrylic paint, old CDs, and modeling clay made from cornstarch, baking soda, and water.}

Aztec imagery. The things on this side of the cross were all symbols important to native Mesoamerican spirituality, and were adapted by missionaries to fit in Christian teachings too. Mirrors represented a connection to a different dimension or world. Corn was a sacred substance, subsequently used to make human forms of Jesus that were hung on ceremonial crosses. The Nahuatl people were also taught to say the equivalent of “tortilla” instead of “bread” in the Lord’s Prayer. The sun was also a highly divine image, said to keep the universe functioning through the blood of human sacrifice (the latter of which, as the missionaries taught, could end since Jesus was sacrificed on behalf of everyone once and for all).


Tree of Life 3

{Acrylic paint, puffy fabric paint, and plastic gemstones.}

Byzantine imagery. Displaying the imperialization of Christianity, emperors would send fancy-pants crosses to other religious and political leaders, both displaying their wealth/power and their connection to divinity.


Tree of Life 4

{Acrylic paint and watercolor paint.}

Painted ceiling of old catacombs and churches. Simple stars indicate the heavens, and the wavy lines denoting the sky are intentionally ambiguous in their similarity to images of water.


Tree of Life 5

{Acrylic, watercolor, and puffy paints.}

Inspired by a church door featuring Old and New Testament images. From top to bottom: Genesis 2, Abraham and Isaac, Jonah, the Last Supper, the crucifixion, and the resurrection.


Tree of Life 2

{Magazine clippings.}

Allison imagery. Tree trunk and other wood pictures make up the vertical part, and leaves and other plants go horizontally. The middle is a photo of two galaxies colliding. I liked the idea of this really captivating event that was eye-catching and at the same time mysterious, at least a little scary, and something that ultimately is way bigger than we could ever understand. It seemed rather fitting for the middle of a cross.