“Yet he took note of their distress
when he heard their cry;
for their sake he remembered his covenant
and out of his great love he relented.” -Psalm 106
From the Artist:
Since seminary, the Psalms have had a special place in my heart and theology particularly the provocative lament and complaint Psalms as they draw upon memory in such interesting ways. Faith and our utter need for salvation allows Christians to boldly approach God baring the ugly realities of all that is wrong in the world to the only One who can set things aright. The psalmist’s testimonies left nothing out of their purview: praise and bitterness, hope and fear, life and death. In addition to the psalms that convey this emotional gamut, some also contain brute and penetrating questions of Yahweh: Why? Where? How long? These laments (and these questions of complaint) are firmly rooted in Israel’s covenant with God, utilizing memory of the both the individual and community. But more provocatively, many of the Psalms remind God of God’s own past promises and salvific actions. In other words, they remind God to be God.
I chose two Psalms to inspire this work, Psalm 88 and 106. Both use memory in curious ways as alluded to above. The psalmist in Psalm 88 recalls his current desperate circumstances and fears that having been forgotten by God. He then challenges God to recall God’s own attributes and past actions of “wonder”, “steadfast love”, and “faithfulness” in efforts to stir God into saving action once again. Psalm 106 recalls both sides of the covenant: God’s salvific actions on Israel’s behalf and Israel’s efforts and failures to live out their part of the covenant relationship. The psalmist says, “For their sake he remembered his covenant, and showed compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.”
Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
Originally from northwest Iowa, Ryan Stander is a fairly recent transplant to the plains of North Dakota. His education has alternated between art and theology with a BA in Art from Northwestern College (IA), an MA in Bible and Theology from Sioux Falls Seminary (SD), and an MFA from the University of North Dakota.
His research brings liturgical theology and the arts into dynamic conversations. In particular, Stander explores how the sacramental imagination, as formed through liturgical participation, engages ideas of place/space, and other cultural forms including the visual arts. As an artist, his work moves between printmaking and photography, with a keen interest in lithography and alternative photographic processes. Thematically, Stander’s work often engages concepts of memory and identity.
Ryan and his wife Karina recently moved to Minot, ND where he serves as an Assistant Professor of Art at Minot State University. Teaching primarily photography, Stander also recently started and now serves as the director for Flat Tail Press, an educational printmaking studio at Minot State University.
This work was curated by Emily Clare Zempel.
Image is copyrighted by the artist and used here by permission.