Responding to Proverbs 24 and the metaphor of the home, artist Stephanie Barenz explores the story of wisdom within her work:
By wisdom a house is built,
and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures.
Do not testify against your neighbor without cause—
would you use your lips to mislead?
Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me;
I’ll pay them back for what they did.”
(Proverbs 24:3-4, 28-29)
From the Artist:
This painting is completed on a 12″x16″ wood panel with acrylics, ink, and pencil. I began by laying down a drawing in pencil and working back into it with a neutral palette of acrylics. I used water to dilute the paint to the point where it worked more like watercolor rather than acrylic. The pencil is laid on top of the acrylics, in order to bring out various details. As you can see, my process is a merging of drafting, drawing, and painting. The piece was then sprayed with an archival, kamar varnish in order to seal it.
I chose Proverbs 24 as a catalyst for this mixed-media painting. I loved what verses 3 and 4 had to say, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”
I built the narrative of my painting around these verses. The image I worked from is of a neighborhood in Milwaukee, which is where I currently live and have my home. The extension lines that are coming off of the houses, highlight Proverbs 24’s message of applying the wisdom that is grown at home to the communities that we are a part of. As the chapter outlines our home is where our characters are formed.
Our characters will either have a positive or negative impact on our communities. As Proverbs 24:28-29 states, “Do not testify against your neighbor without cause— would you use your lips to mislead? Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did.” This is the wisdom that I want to fill the rooms of my home with. It is my belief that this kind of wisdom will help to form more vibrant and healthy shared collective spaces. I am grateful for the opportunity to have created a painting for Spark and Echo Arts that will forever remind me of this message.
Stephanie Barenz is an artist who makes mixed media work about place, sojourning, and storytelling. She received her MFA in Visual Arts from the Samfox School of Art of Design at Washington University in St. Louis and her B.A. in Art from Bethany Lutheran College in Minnesota. Her work is informed by her own experiences with sojourning which have included living abroad in Florence, Italy and Hangzhou, China. She grew up in Texas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin and has enjoyed living in several other midwestern cities. She currently lives with her husband, Zach, in Milwaukee, WI.
Barenz has completed artist residencies through the Students Artist League of New York, the Pfister Hotel AiR program in Milwaukee, and at the Chicago Printmakers’ Collaborative. Her work has been acquired by notable public collectors, such as Northwestern Mutual and Alverno College and has private collectors across the United States and in Europe. Her paintings have been exhibited at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Museum of Wisconsin Art, Dean Jensen Gallery, the John Michael Kohler Art Center, Expo 72 in Chicago, and more.
Barenz’s work has been featured in The Artist’s Magazine, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, MPTV, Milwaukee Magazine, the Huffington Post, among others. Learn more by visiting her website www.stephaniebarenz.com.
This work was curated by Charis J. Carmichael Braun.
Image and materials are copyrighted by the artist and used here by permission.