Laurel Justice explores the multilayered history of Bathsheba through the stunning, physically multi-layered creation of her work in response to 1 Kings 1:28-40:
Then King David said, “Call in Bathsheba.” So she came into the king’s presence and stood before him.
The king then took an oath: “As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, I will surely carry out this very day what I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place.”
Then Bathsheba bowed down with her face to the ground, prostrating herself before the king, and said, “May my lord King David live forever!”
King David said, “Call in Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.” When they came before the king, he said to them: “Take your lord’s servants with you and have Solomon my son mount my own mule and take him down to Gihon. There have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel. Blow the trumpet and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ Then you are to go up with him, and he is to come and sit on my throne and reign in my place. I have appointed him ruler over Israel and Judah.”
Benaiah son of Jehoiada answered the king, “Amen! May the Lord, the God of my lord the king, so declare it. As the Lord was with my lord the king, so may he be with Solomon to make his throne even greater than the throne of my lord King David!”
So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites went down and had Solomon mount King David’s mule, and they escorted him to Gihon. Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the sacred tent and anointed Solomon. Then they sounded the trumpet and all the people shouted, “Long live King Solomon!” And all the people went up after him, playing pipes and rejoicing greatly, so that the ground shook with the sound.
From the Artist:
When I began engaging with the text, I was struck by the strangeness of it all: Bathsheba is visiting her husband, the dying King David, while a naked Shunnammite virgin is warming him in bed, and Nathan is outside eavesdropping so he can confirm David’s intentions for the heir.
What significance did Bathsheba have, that she, of all of David’s countless wives, be the one summoned to his death bed (but not the one to keep him warm)? That her son, over all sons, had favor to be named king? And what uncommon wisdom might she have possessed to navigate all of the variables that made up her marriage to David?
As soon as David confirms that their son, Solomon will be the heir (not Adonijah, who was trying to assume the throne), Bathsheba bowed her face to the ground, proclaiming “long live my lord King David”. The rest of the passage is about how David wants Nathan to handle the change over.
I started my piece with a bathing Bathsheba for an under-painting, for that is where it all began between these two. I imagined her as a person of great strength, character and courage, and the kind of person who could raise the “wisest man who ever lived”. She strikes me as quite pivotal to this moment in history, being included in the genealogy of Jesus, and being a sort of midwife of the temple of Jerusalem that was to come. As I layered pastel paint over the figure, I contemplated the origin of a courtyard bath, adultery, the arc of her losses (Uriah, at least one son, etc.), her significance to David, her remarkable mothering of Solomon, and all that followed in history because of her. I represented her figure somewhat architecturally, and my subsequent marks are meant to hint at her liminal place in history.
Laurel Seibels Justice lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she works from her historic loft studio as a psychotherapist, artist and art consultant. She recently served two terms as a Public Art Commissioner for the Pikes Peak Region and juries everything from latte art competitions and poetry slams, to large scale public sculptures and outdoor arts festivals. She has consulted on various digital art experiences (apps and blogs) for companies based in New York and London. Laurel also writes an occasional arts and culture feature for the local newspaper.
As a visual artist, Laurel works in soft pastels, creating abstract and landscape paintings primarily inspired by the Lowcountry of SC, Colorado and New Mexico. Her commissions hail from coast to coast in the US, and her work has been exhibited widely in Colorado Springs. People describe her work as energetic, whimsical, mysterious, topographical and inspiring.
A graduate of Agnes Scott College with a BA in Art, she went on to earn an MA in Counseling from Webster University in Myrtle Beach, SC. She is passionate about helping clients restore wholeness around whatever it is they feel they are meant to be in the world. Not surprisingly, many of those clients happen to be artists, writers, musicians, playwrights, dancers, etc. She designs workshops and retreats that support the personal and professional growth of creative people.
She is married to Steve and has 4 children.
This work was curated by Michael Markham.
Image and materials are copyrighted by the artist and used here by permission.