Vesper Stamper brings us the final post of the year. The work entitled This is Not My Vineyard in response to the theme of “memory” and the passage of Deuteronomy 6:4-12
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
This is Not My Vineyard, 2013, watercolor on paper, 22″x15″
From the Artist:
My faith has come to a place of simplicity over the past couple of years, distilling to the basic elements of the “Shema” (“Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one”), and the Greatest Commandment (“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and might”), both of which are contained in this passage, with the command to bind the awareness of the Lord’s presence and ways on the hand and forehead, signifying both the mind and the will/deeds. I grew up in a Jewish home, so these passages have always been familiar to me, but I realized that I had a superficial knowledge of their context. I was surprised by God’s matter-of-fact understanding of how quickly we forget Him even when we are in the midst of His abundance—an abundance that others before us had labored for, meaning that everything we think we have earned has been placed divinely in our lives in a long succession of events. Just as the Jewish practice of wrapping tefillin is a way of entwining the awareness of God in the mind and will, we are called by this Scripture to consciously entwine into our memories His deeds, past, present and future.
This is a self-portrait, which is a discipline I have been trying to keep this Advent as a way to understand Jesus’ coming into the deepest reaches of my own life in its present complexities.
Hopelessly lost among the wintry wardrobes of Pauline Baynes’ Narnia, Shaun Tan’s mysterious foreign lands, and the watery open spaces in Lisbeth Zwerger’s illustrations, Vesper Stamper’s calling as an illustrator began as soon as she cracked open Hilary Knight’s Cinderella and spent the rest of her childhood meticulously copying each graceful page. She earned an Honors degree in Illustration from Parsons School of Design, and, woven in with her visual work, Vesper is also a recording artist in the indie rock band Ben + Vesper, on the Sounds Familyre record label. Her career has spanned fifteen years, dozens of album covers, four picture books and countless other exciting projects. She brings a refined style and emotional depth to her work that goes beyond mere decoration to pay homage to the rich illustrative tradition from which she comes.
Vesper was recently named the recipient of the 2012 Lincoln City Fellowship for her upcoming graphic novel The Sea-King’s Children, which will take her to the Outer Hebrides of Scotland this spring (2013) to research the book’s setting and folklore, and to write and paint for the book at the “edge of the world”. She lives in Jersey City, NJ with her husband, filmmaker Ben Stamper, and her two fairy children, who are grabbing the baton and can take an urban backyard full of dirt and recreate it as a world of wonders.
This work was curated Jonathon Roberts.
Image is copyrighted by the artist and used here by permission.