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  • Did I not tell you that if you believed...?

    Sptuttlecropped Loading Video . . . Artist Sara Tuttle's layered work explores the theme of healing and John 11:40. In this piece, I represent how generations of human activity on the land intersect with the vision that God wants us to take hold of for both the present and future. John 11:40 Did I not tell you that if you believed...? By Sara Tuttle ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: ​ 2014 17.5″ x 14.5″ Mixed media on paper ​ Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ “Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40) Context: Jesus has arrived in Bethany after Lazarus died, and the first thing that Martha says when she sees him is: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” (John 11:21-22) She continues her affirmation in his power a few passages later by professing her belief that he is the Messiah (John 11:27). Yet, when they come to the tomb and Jesus says “take away the stone”, Martha protests, saying “But Lord…by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” (John 11:39). Martha is simply stating the reality of the present situation; one of death and decay. Yet, Jesus replies with a reproof for her to exercise the faith that she professed earlier: “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” In this passage, Jesus’ is reminding her of her own faith and he makes an ‘if’ statement; directly linking her belief to her witness of the glory of God. I chose this passage because it is an exhortation for me to exercise what little faith I have in the Lord’s ability to resurrect the present realities of death and decay – not just within myself – but specifically for the neighborhood that I inhabit. The same message that Jesus gives Martha, he speaks to me (and to my local church) when the realities of injustice, violence, imprisonment, racial tension and poverty cloud our vision of the Shalom that God desires, and the glory that He contains. When all that we see is an already-dead man, sealed in a tomb, Jesus asks us to trust that he is at work and that he is a God of healing, redemption and resurrection. I made this painting while reflecting upon the ways in which I am called to continue in the work of generations of people before me who had a vision of healing and wholeness for this neighborhood that did not yet exist. In Hebrews 11:1 Paul tells us that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” and I believe that I am seeing the substance of the faith of believers that came before me just now coming to fruition in the neighborhood. Reflection upon the faithfulness of those who have professed Christ’s Lordship and gospel over this place in both prayers and action gives me assurance for the ways in which the Lord wants to honor my prayers and seeds of faith. In this piece, I represent how generations of human activity on the land intersect with the vision that God wants us to take hold of for both the present and future. In order to create the multiple layers of this piece I used the process of building up the surface, sealing it, partially removing layers through sanding and other means of scraping and then repeating the cycle. This process mirrors how I see history, unfolding on a city; the healing and damaging marks of generations, layered on the social and physical environment of my neighborhood. Both worn and dingy, this piece is also a pastel palette; conveying a sense of hope. The gold suggests moments of transfiguration of the old into new or ‘glory’ breaking through. The bulbs are Narcissus flowers (also known as Daffodils), which have long been associated with the season of Lent, symbolizing that Winter is still here while joyfully announcing transition into the coming season of Spring. Thus, they are signposts of resurrection; the new life that we see breaking forth today, as well as a promise of the greater, more full life that is to come. The bulbs, too, are worn and black and white; as if an old vision from the past that is being dusted off. This piece is a reminder and exhortation to myself that I am to live in the reality of the promises of God; to inhabit the Messiah’s vision in the present, if I am to see the Glory of God. Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Sara Tuttle is a visual artist, residing in the neighborhood of Church Hill in Richmond, VA with her husband Sam. She grew up in Connecticut and studied Art and Art History at the University of Richmond. She taught high school at Church Hill Academy and worked for Church Hill Activities and Tutoring for three years, has since returned to making visual art and is currently applying to MFA programs. She has had two solo shows in Richmond and is excited about the future of her art-making practice as one of the avenues by which she continues to engage in the life of her community, neighborhood and city. Website Sara Tuttle About the Artist Sara Tuttle Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • and the fertile field…

    Fertile Field Ashley Daneman Loading Video . . . Acclaimed jazz vocalist Ashley Daneman's "and the fertile field..." is a personal and poignant response to Isaiah 32:15. Isaiah 32:15 and the fertile field… By Ashley Daneman ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: ​ 2011 4'x4' Acrylic and vinyl ​ Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ till the Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest. -Isaiah 32:15 Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ A late career start and plenty of interesting life turns have caused Daneman to go deep with her blend of jazz and modern folk debuting “a publicly intimate recording that is frank and unapologetic. Beauty Indestructible is a collection of nine original "spirit poems" scored and written by Daneman, existing as an intensely personal song cycle. Daneman addresses the fundamental healing power of love” (C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz). Drawing comparisons to Becca Stevens, Laura Nyro, and even Stephen Sondheim, Beauty Indestructible is summed up as “beautiful jazz art music from a gorgeous voice with superb accompaniment” (Mark S. Tucker, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange) and as “a profound work of art that is so alive, so positive, and so blessedly musical” (Richard Kamins, Step Tempest). “Charming and enchanting with its offbeat/outside the lines sensibilities, [Beauty Indestructible] is killer stuff that’s sure to resonate with the gypsy in your soul” (Chris Spector, Midwest Record). Website Ashley Daneman About the Artist I’ve Got All the Light I Need Ashley Daneman Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • Flesh

    Loading Video . . . Composer Jonathon Roberts and the Spark+Echo Band bring to life Genesis 2 with this love song between Adam and Eve. Genesis 2:4-25 Flesh By The Spark & Echo Band ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: ​ 2011 ​ ​ ​ Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ Check out Genesis 2 again, even if you know the story. Some new things occurred to us on this last pass. We love the way the streams came up from the ground as Adam received the breath of life. What was Eve feeling as she explored her home for the first time? We imagine their love growing very strong in the garden, and even helping them to cope through their banishment. Their expulsion didn't lead to the first divorce. Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ The Spark & Echo Band is a family outfit of songwriting-storytellers led by husband and wife duo Jonathon Roberts and Emily Clare Zempel. Their music brings forgotten poetry and wild stories from the Bible to life: visions of sparkling wheels in the sky, hunger and thirst, and legends of love as strong as death weave with memorable melodies and captivating rhythms. Drawing from a classical background, influenced by the pianism of Rufus Wainwright and Ben Folds, and emulating Paul Simon’s narratival techniques, Spark & Echo sings epic tales of love and adventure. The duo has collaborated on three full lengths albums (Spark&Echo, Inheritance, Cities Project), one video album (In the Clocktower), in addition to many theatrical collaborations, this very nonprofit, and two children. They live in beautiful Beacon, New York, with all of the above. Website The Spark & Echo Band About the Artist White Robe Deep Calls to Deep Yo Sé Do You Love Me? Where Can I Go? How to Be Free Lifeblood Artist in Residence 2015: Spark & Echo Band The Wheels Frogs Ruined Inheritance The Spark & Echo Band Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • Fool

    Nicora Gangi 2013 Air 2 Foolishness Loading Video . . . Nicora Gangi deals with the theme of "Fools" and responds to Ecclesiastes 5:7 in her second work created for a collection inspired by each of the six themes for the year as a 2013 Artist in Residence. Ecclesiastes 5:7​ Fool By Nicora Gangi ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: Spark+Echo Arts, 2013 Artist in Residence 2013 14 x 20 inches Paper Collage on Strathmore paper & Adobe Photoshop Mixed Media Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ Many of old pretended to know the mind of God by dreams and were so full of them that they almost made God's people forget his name by their dreams. Many now perplex themselves with their frightful or odd dreams or with other people's dreams heralding this or other disaster. Those that heed dreams shall have a multitude of them to fill their heads with, but in them there is nothing but foolishness - just as there is in many words. They are like the idle ill-mannered chat of children and fools, therefore don't pay any attention to them. Fear God and Him alone. Have an eye to His sovereign dominion. Set Him before you. Keep yourself in His love and be afraid of offending Him and you will not be disturbed by foolish dreams. The way not to be dismayed at the signs of heaven nor afraid of pagan idols is to fear God as King of Nations. (Jeremiah 10:2, 5, 7) Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Nicora Gangi was educated at Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA (BFA 1974 and MFA 1976). She was a Professor of Art at Syracuse University for 29 years. Gangi has been awarded many Grand Prize and First Place awards and grants. She has been and continues to be published in numerous artist’s books on pastel paintings. She has lectured regionally and nationally as a visiting artist at universities and artist’s guilds. She is represented by: Edgewood Gallery (Syracuse, NY), and Gangi Studio (Winter Garden, FL ). Website Nicora Gangi About the Artist This One The Body without the Spirit | 1 The Body without the Spirit | 2 The Body without the Spirit | 3 The Sealed Ones Peace with God The Everlasting Protective Love of God Our Father So Shall Your Descendants Be I See Him but Not Now The Mountain of the House of The Lord Paneled and Ruins Series The Harvest Spirit of God-The Spirit Hovering Memories Lies Dance Your Truth from the Great Congregation Psalm 18 Sound of Their Wings Psalm 16 Kiss the Son EAST, WEST, NORTH & SOUTH AT HIS TABLE Nicora Gangi Other Works By Nicora Gangi created a collection of mixed media works in response to scripture and the six themes of the year as a 2013 Artist in Residence. Explore her works created throughout the year: Spirit of God – The Spirit Hovering Light and Darkness (February 4, 2013) Fool (This piece) Fools (April 13, 2013) Dance Dancing (June 13, 2013) Lies Lies (August 22, 2013) The Harvest Harvest (October 17, 2013) Memories Memory (December 12, 2013) Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • Word of Mouth

    Loading Video . . . Curator Emily Ruth Hazel responds to the theme of "Water" from Isaiah 55:1-13 in this poem. Isaiah 55:1-13 2 Chronicles 7:13-15 Hosea 6:1-4 Isaiah 29:13 Isaiah 41:17-20 Jeremiah 29:12-14 Word of Mouth By Emily Ruth Hazel ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: Jonathon + Emily 2012 ​ ​ Poetry Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ “Word of Mouth” is a spoken word piece that echoes and expands upon the words of the Old Testament poet-prophet Isaiah, remixing with a contemporary spin the language and themes in the book of Isaiah. I focused primarily on Chapter 55, a passage that brims over with an exuberant sense of hope and possibility as well as an intimate sense of reassurance. Countering the scarcity mentality that is so contagious today, this passage reads as an invitation to engage with God and to live full lives that aren’t defined by our pasts or by our human limitations. Responding to this in poetic form, my aim was to reimagine how that invitation might translate in contemporary images and colloquial language, and how it could be filtered through the lens of the American cultural context to be understood in fresh ways. I wanted to capture the experiences of everyday people working in a tough economic climate. And I wanted to convey a sense of God coming alongside us—recognizing the contributions of those who may be undervalued, acknowledging the struggles we face, and affirming that change is possible, that we can live with a sense of trust and abundance regardless of our circumstances. While my work as a poet is often closely tied to my personal experiences as an individual, one of my goals with this piece was to explore a wider range of perspectives—including but also reaching beyond my own—to reflect our shared human experience. At the same time, I tried to envision God’s perspective on relationships with people. The creative risk in writing a piece that would essentially put words in God’s mouth felt weighty at times, as did deciding how to translate the tone, but I enjoyed the challenge of pushing past some of the traditional assumptions about God’s interactions with and attitude toward people. I wrote this piece with the hope that listeners would be able to find at least a part of themselves in it. Yet it is also a reflection of the speaker: as a person’s character is revealed through his or her own words, this is meant to be heard as a series of verbal paintings, a collective portrait of a surprisingly approachable, deeply relational, and radically generous God. Following the themes of Isaiah 55, I have kept the imagery of different forms of water flowing throughout the piece—although I have incorporated many other images as well. Water speaks of refreshment and restoration, which tie into the themes of thirst and hunger (physical, emotional, and spiritual) and transformation of landscapes (both natural and internal). The process of writing this piece was a little bit like reupholstering a chair: trying to preserve the beautiful, old frame (i.e., the essential concepts in Isaiah and the feeling of the language in certain places) but also taking some liberties in updating it with a contemporary color and pattern. I didn’t want the fabric of the new piece to completely clash with the preexisting parts. My hope is that the infusion of the new may encourage more people to sit in these words awhile and to appreciate the continuing relevance of the original text. “Word of Mouth” was inspired primarily by Isaiah 55, but Ms. Hazel also drew from other passages in the Old Testament with similar themes. Primary Passage: *Isaiah 55:1-13 Other Passages Incorporated: 2 Chronicles 7:13-15 Hosea 6:1-4 Isaiah 29:13 *Isaiah 41:17-20 Jeremiah 29:12-14 [Words and phrases were borrowed from a few different versions of the passage: the New International Version, New King James version, and The Message, (contemporary paraphrase, in colloquial language).] Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Emily Ruth Hazel is a poet, writer, and cross-pollinator who is passionate about diversifying the audience for poetry and giving voice to people who have been marginalized. Selected as the Honorary Poet for the 25th Annual Langston Hughes Community Poetry Reading in Providence, Rhode Island, she presented a commissioned tribute to the Poet Laureate of Harlem in February of 2020. She is a two-time recipient of national Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prizes and was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for a residency at The Hambidge Center in 2014. Her chapbook, Body & Soul (Finishing Line Press, 2005) , was a New Women’s Voices finalist. Emily’s work has appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines, literary journals, and digital projects, including Kinfolks: A Journal of Black Expression and Magnolia: A Journal of Women’s Socially Engaged Literature. Her poetry has also been featured on music albums, in a hair salon art installation, and in a science museum exhibition. Emily has written more than twenty commissioned works for organizations, arts productions, social justice projects, and private clients. Currently, she is developing several poetry book manuscripts and writing lyrics for an original musical inspired by the life of the extraordinary singer and Civil Rights icon Marian Anderson. A graduate of Oberlin College’s Creative Writing Program and a former New Yorker, she is now based in the Los Angeles area. EmilyRuthHazel.com Instagram: @EmilyRuthHazel Facebook.com/EmilyRuthHazel Website Emily Ruth Hazel About the Artist In the Wake of the Storm Circling the Waist of Wisdom Give Me a Name Homecoming Runaway Give Us This Day Undressing Prayer Emily Ruth Hazel Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art Then God leans over the cubicle wall and says, Anyone thirsty? All you nine-to-fivers, View Full Written Work Word of Mouth by Emily Ruth Hazel Then God leans over the cubicle wall and says, Anyone thirsty? All you nine-to-fivers, you coffee-carrying assistants holding together corporate empires— come to the water cooler. I’ll give you something to talk about, more to take home than a paycheck. All you hardworking construction crews standing by the roadside in the shimmer of the noonday heat— come out tonight. Drinks on me! All you underpaid nannies pushing strollers in the park, sweet-talking toddlers into napping so you can gather your thoughts like laundry flung about a bedroom; and all you parents at the water fountain hoisting your children to reach that cool stream, stop and take a sip yourself. All you drought-weary farmers, you who have invested everything tending crops that refuse to grow— come outside, the clouds are hanging heavy. When what you’ve prayed for finally falls, you’ll stand in the fields with your mouths open, echoing the earth’s own sigh of relief as the soil absorbs the long-awaited rain. Come, all you teachers tying knots at the ends of your ropes, all of you buried under lesson plans and papers to correct and ruled by the rosy assumption that catching up grade levels is a simple game of hopscotch, the pressure on you like that which makes diamonds out of coal— And all you college students living on Ramen noodles and PBR, surfing the waves of adrenaline as you cram for exams, struggling to stay upright and wondering if it’s worth it— All you truck drivers saying goodbye to your families again, your headlights pushing back the dark, the radio keeping you company as you watch another midnight disappear in your rearview mirror— All of you deserve a rest. So come, put your work aside, and be refreshed: come with your glasses raised, and I will revive your spirits. I will open the spigot in the cask of the sky. Come on, all you marathon runners at the back of the pack, legs rippling as you limp up Heartbreak Hill, panting, spent, wiping the sting of sweat from your eyes— I’m over here, cheering you on, handing you water and oranges. You who depend on coffee to wake you up and cigarettes to calm you down; you who can’t afford to need favors because of your bad credit; you who are tired of standing on buses, who are on your feet eight hours a day ringing up other people’s groceries and have no budget left for food until next Friday—let your children buy milk without lunch money. Then come, pile your shopping carts high at no charge! Bring home enough to make dinner for friends. * Why labor for what doesn’t satisfy, squandering your energy on what cannot nourish or sustain you? Why waste your hard-earned cash on cotton candy—a momentary pleasure, too sweet, that dissolves on your tongue, leaving you hungrier than you were before? Why do you spend precious dough on what is not bread? I’ve seen you staring into your brightly lit refrigerators, surveying their contents as if they hold your future. I know where you stash the chocolate and the bourbon, self-prescribed remedies for stress, insecurity, exhaustion. I know what you reach for when you’re hungry for approval and something resembling intimacy; when you ache to be coupled, and when you are lost in loneliness even in marriage; when the keen edge of disappointment slices you open; when you can’t seem to wash away the residue of shame under all your failures. You kowtow to the god of your stomach, gorge yourselves and still want more. You fill up on empty calories that spoil your appetite for truth while waiting for the real meal to arrive. I’ve come to offer you something better, to serve you a different kind of comfort food. Come with listening spirits and learn from me how to eat well. Come, enjoy authentic flavors; redefine delicious. I will feed you only the finest ingredients, ripe and in season, organically grown. Come to the wedding banquet: let your soul delight in the gifts of abundance. Come hungry, and receive a clean plate every time you ask. Come shameless with your Tupperware ready for leftovers. * Listen closely, you whose ears have been clogged, your inner ears inflamed, a tiny, restless ocean trapped inside— and you who have turned on the white noise of the television, pretending not to hear me, so sure that I would hurl a harsh word at you or misjudge who you are. I understand the pain of being misunderstood: you think you know me, but when was our last conversation? How many times have I tried to reach you and you have not answered? You have felt the pulsing in your pocket and ignored it. Sometimes you listen for a second, then hang up quickly, thinking there isn’t a real person on the other end, just some recorded message that’s irrelevant to you. Or you hear a voice, and you assume it’s someone trying to sell you something you don’t want, or a prank call that you’re not about to fall for —the way you prank call heaven when you say, Oh my God— but it’s me on the line. How can you not recognize the voice of one who loves you? Even now, if you call me while the phone is still warm in my hand, I’ll answer on the first ring. If you seek me out, you will find me; I won’t play hard to get. * Come to me, you who are out of gas, you whose lives are on layaway, whose hearts have gone bankrupt, whose faith has run dry— you who have searched for yourselves as if you were lost coins in between couch cushions; and you who have tossed pennies in a fountain of hope, only to see it be drained for the season, its springs uneternal after the first freeze. You whose lights have been shut off, who have boarded up the windows of your souls as if your bodies were deserted houses— you stumble around unseeing; your glasses are useless. You bark your shins and blame me, but it’s you who have closed your eyes. Come, open the curtains over your calloused hearts, and I will pay off your back bills, restore your power, and give you new lenses to look through. * Let the runaways return to me— the parent who waits by the window, heartsick, who catches a glimpse of the child staggering home, rehearsing apologies, and abandons all dignity, sprints to embrace the one whose wandering heart has wounded— the God who goes beyond forgiveness, the God who knows how to throw a party. Come back to me, the God who leaves the light on for you, even when I know you won’t be home tonight. My offer stands even for the cruel and corrupt, the calculating buzzards—let them come and have their criminal records shredded, throw to the curb their crooked ways of getting by, the stained and broken chairs and itch-infested mattresses with which they once furnished their lives. Let them leave behind the stench of their old garbage baking in the sun and travel light as they take a new road. What can I say? If I look like a fool for spreading such a lavish feast of love before those who are bound to crush me again under their retreating heels, it is simply because I am a God who longs, like you, for something more, weak with desire to lean close, to be known. You who sit in the back and stand on the fringes, thinking no one sees you— when you turn toward me, even the slightest shift, I notice. And when you speak to me, be it a yell or a whisper, I will listen. I linger in the hallway, hoping to be let in. You open the door, then close it again, unlock the deadbolt, but won’t take off the chain. I reach for you, and my hand is caught in the hinge of your indecision. Yet I am committed to you, my faithfulness founded on bedrock— a love that is built to endure disaster, not a flimsy model of affection constructed with Popsicle sticks but a love that is high and wide, fortified, strong enough to shelter you. Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Still, I wring my heart out for you, drench you in a deluge of grace while you dabble in the shallows. You talk a good line, but your words are made of lace. Your fingers are always in some other pie. But if you will acknowledge me with more than the occasional nod in my direction, if you’re ready for honest conversations, if you will humbly offer yourselves as living prayers, and turn from your unfaithful ways, then I will hear from heaven and forgive you. I will take you back, gather you into my arms: you will be my people, and I will be your God. If you let me, I will set your broken bones, clean your wounds, smooth healing ointment over all the places you’ve been burned. * I’m calling from the other side of night. If you choose me, I will bring you out of hiding— out of a life of crouching and ducking your head, enslaved by fear and cycles of destruction— out through trap doors, secret gates, alleys, and back roads. No yanking by the collar or twisting of arms. You will go forth in peace, and I will lead you— not into a beige, uninspired life, but into an adventure, the kind that keeps you guessing with every turn of the page. I will make your minds more spacious. When you cross over into free country, you’ll run with your arms wide open, leaping and shouting like children, unselfconscious. Even the wallflowers will bloom— closet dancers, those who save their singing for the shower—people from all walks of life, everyone who has tasted this freedom, joining together in a parade of praise. Mountains and hills and the birds that nest among them will burst into colorful song, all creation celebrating your return, your going forward new. You’ll hear my Spirit rustling through the trees; my breath will fill you as it fills the spaces in between the leaves. * You whose lives are like seltzer gone flat, reduced to an endless, meaningless to-do list, I will surprise you with joy that comes bubbling up from the bottom— the kind of joy that sneaks up on you like a hug from behind while you’re leaning over the sink washing dishes, or responding to a flood of business emails, water to be bailed out of your basement. And when you welcome me into the everyday mess, the peace I give you will not be the kind that sits smugly at an empty desk with its hands serenely folded, but the kind that sidles up unexpectedly in the midst of jackhammers and traffic and your partner’s latest rant and your boss’s overwhelming expectations and the children bickering in the dark when they’re supposed to be asleep and the unknown results from a blood test, the worry that gnaws on the edge of your mind. I will show you how to stand in the middle of it all, in a circle of calm, like the shade of a live oak planted in a busy intersection. * My work is a mystery to you: you can sow seeds, but only I can make them grow. The way a new life forms in the womb of a woman is to you a wonder beyond words. So how could you fully grasp all that I am preparing to birth within the hidden places of your hearts? My thoughts see farther than your thoughts, and my ways diverge from yours. My slowest thoughts drive faster than light, less than a breadth apart on cloverleaf interchanges, and never collide. My ideas fly seamless figure-eights miles above you, the infinity sign my signature in the sky. My dreams for you are far beyond what you have dared to imagine. * For the moment, your mouths are parched; you beg for water, finding none. But I won’t leave you thirsty. I am the one who knows your need before the word is on your tongue. As surely as the sun rises, I will appear; as surely as the spring rains come, after winter, I will come to you. I will open up rivers on the barren hills, the heights of desolation; I will change nature’s course and break the laws of gravity for you. I will make springs flow in the valleys, turn the desert into pools of water. Instead of stumbling into poison ivy, you will find the cooling balm of aloe. Instead of toiling like Adam after exile from Eden, only to force thorns and thistles from the ground— instead of a briar patch of curses to claw your way out of, torn and bleeding— instead, you’ll discover a field of blessing, orchards and vineyards, gardens overflowing with flowers. Where only scraggly desert scrub would grow, myrtle will flourish—each fragrant, white blossom exploding with beauty, pollen-dusted stamens shooting from the center like a spray of light. Myrtle will cure your infections, clear the airways so you can breathe again, protect the lining of your health so easily eaten away by anxiety. In the wilderness through which you’ve walked I will cultivate promise. With my bare hands I will uproot the thorn bushes, and in their place plant strong and stately trees: cypress, to stand as thousand-year testimonies, green through all the seasons; olive and acacia; sweet-smelling juniper and pine; redwoods towering in majesty, drawing your eyes to me. Cedars and sequoias will thrive, evidence of transformation in what was once a wasteland. I will write my name across this new creation just as I have inscribed your hearts, so that everyone may know whose work it is—that I, God, am the one who has accomplished this, who has bent impossibility backwards like a wire coat hanger, reviving the landscapes of your lives. Those who know you will recognize the change. Even strangers will come to you with questions, seeing in you the spark of the Spirit. * As the snow that slowly descends the escalator of the sky and does not ascend again until there is a thaw; and as the rain that showers the earth does not evaporate before it soaks in, trickles down below the surface, and waters the deepest roots; so the words of my mouth go out to the people in every part of the world—winged words sent out like homing pigeons, tiny scrolls tied around their ankles. They cannot land without leaving an impression in the sand, and they will not return to me without delivering the message of hope. My promises are never void; backed by the treasury of heaven, the checks I write will never bounce. And wherever you are, my words will run ahead of you to open the door when you arrive. From my lips to your ears, this is news to quench your soul, an invitation to be passed on. This is grace— not something you can buy bottled, but something to be shared, a cupful at a time. And as a paper cup that holds cold water is passed from hand to hand, these words are for you, the thirsty ones sitting in the back. Close Loading Video . . . Then God leans over the cubicle wall and says, Anyone thirsty? All you nine-to-fivers, Download Full Written Work

  • Artist in Residence 2016: Lauren Ferebee

    Loading Video . . . 2016 Artist in Residence Lauren Ferebee shares the final development of her "Book of (H)ours," reflects on her presentation of the work, and looks forward to how she would like to continue the development of her piece that illuminated Proverbs 8. Proverbs 8:1-6 Artist in Residence 2016: Lauren Ferebee By Lauren Ferebee ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: Spark+Echo Arts, Artist in Residence 2016 2016 ​ ​ ​ Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ In Proverbs 8, Wisdom says: Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? At the highest point along the way, where the paths meet, she takes her stand; beside the gate leading into the city, at the entrance, she cries aloud: “To you, O people, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. You who are simple, gain prudence; you who are foolish, set your hearts on it. (vv. 1-5) On a cold Saturday at the end of November, right before Thanksgiving, about twenty people gathered into a small house generously donated by a friendly organization to listen to me talk for an hour. They were people intentionally invited to share an intimate experience with me, which was the book of hours I created over the last year. I invited each person individually to the performance, and they were mainly people I have met over the last year in Dallas. At the bottom of this post, you can see the intimate setup. The stage was a music stand, a stool, and a lamp. Each audience member, upon arriving, selected a hand-held instrument to use, and they marked the transitions from hour to hour with their instruments. I performed with no makeup, in a sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers. I left my ideas about who I was and who I was supposed to be at the door, and I let who I was in honesty lead the way forward. It was very scary, and I still don't know if I did it "right," but I know that in that space of speaking and being listened to, I learned a lot. I have plans in the works to continue this piece. My dream is to tour it to all the places where I have community, and to share it with those communities. When I began this project in January, I had anticipated creating a large online resource. However, after much discussion with friends and evolution of my own ideas, what I realized was that this would not, actually, be in the spirit of the book of hours or of wisdom. A book of hours was a personal object, made with painstaking work, made for someone on a journey of self-discovery. The template I made for my own book of hours was my own version of that, and it was how I performed it. What I know of wisdom, what I have learned over the last year, is that it is created in the space between people, in communication and understanding. I think Wisdom herself, in Proverbs 8, understands this. As I meditated on the figure of wisdom, standing at the gate, or on the hill, I was struck by the comparable women throughout history, who have called out truth to the masses, often without response, or little response. There is nothing impersonal about it, nowhere to hide behind. To be Wisdom, you have to put your body in space, speaking words, to others. It is just that simple. To receive and ask for wisdom is a deeply personal experience, and a radical sharing of oneself with others In that spirit, I have chosen to share only a piece of what I created that night. However, in thinking about how to share with you the process that I went through, I decided the most beneficial offering I could make would be a template, which you can download here. The template is a guide to making your own book of hours. I suggest doing it with others: perhaps six others, so everyone can take on a day. I continue on my quest to make contemplative objects for others: that practice will take longer and be more time-intensive than I had imagined, but I have found each moment spent creating to be an incredible gift. CLICK HERE TO READ THE BOOK OF (h)OURS GUIDE Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Lauren Ferebee is a Texan native and a multidisciplinary artist whose primary mediums are playwriting and installation/video art. Most recently, her play The Reckless Season was selected for Stage West’s Southwest Playwriting Competition Festival of New Works, and her alternative screwball comedy Sexual Geography was a finalist for the Reva Shiner Comedy Award at the Bloomington Playwrights’ Project. In 2014, she was a juried fellow at Saltonstall Arts Colony, a semifinalist for the Shakespeare’s Sister fellowship and the first theatre-artist-in-residence at HUB-BUB in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where in addition to writing, she did community-based theatre work. Her most recent work includes Sexual Geography (developed at HUB-BUB), The Reckless Season (The Spartanburg Little Theatre/HUB-BUB), Somewhere Safer (FringeNYC 2013, Inkwell finalist), and Blood Quantum (At Hand Theatre & WET Productions). Three of her short plays, jericho, jericho , Bob Baker’s End of the World and The Pirate King are published online at indietheaternow.com , where Somewhere Safer is also published as part of the 2013 Fringe Collection. She is a member of playwriting collective Lather, Rinse, Repeat, and studied playwriting, screenwriting and television writing at Primary Stages/ESPA. Lauren also has regional and NYC credits as an actress on stage and in film, and from 2007-2010 was co-artistic director of a site-specific classical theatre company, Rebellious Subjects Theatre. She especially enjoys acting in and teaching Shakespeare and working on new plays. She holds a BFA in drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Website Lauren Ferebee About the Artist while in a foreign land Wonders of the Deep Lauren Ferebee Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • David

    Loading Video . . . Spark and Echo Arts is pleased to feature the work David, a sculpture by artist Ebitenyefa Baralaye. Mr. Baralaye captures and reflects on the complexities of David's life with a special focus on Psalm 27:1-5. Psalms 27:1-5. David By Ebitenyefa Baralaye ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: Spark+Echo Arts 2011 5 in x 11 in x 18 in Nickel-plated polished bronze Sculpture Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ David, an ancestor of Jesus Christ, was the second king anointed through the prophet Samuel to oversee Judah and all Israel. He came to his reign tensely under service of the then denounced first king, Saul, who, in fear of being usurped, continuously sought to take David's life. A skilled warrior, David's life was marked by warfare and victory, tragedy and praise. In his intimate devotion to God he was known as a man after God's own heart. The stature of the piece reflects David's masculinity and strength. The deepened cracks and inflamed sheared edges reflect his fearless mettle on the battlefield and yet vulnerably broken humanity, while the more elegant curvatures and sinuous planes embody his confident tact as a strategist, diplomat and man of bold faith. The overall energetically outward gestures of the piece capture David's earnest dependence and need for the presence, provision, leadership and love of God in his life. Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Ebitenyefa Baralaye is a ceramicist, sculptor and designer. He was born in Lagos, Nigeria, raised in Antigua and lives in the United States. Ebitenyefa received his BFA in Ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design. His studio bases have included Long Island City, Queens; the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York City; and Bloomfield Hills, MI where he is currently enrolled as a Ceramics MFA candidate at the Cranbrook Academy of Art. He has exhibited in various solo and group shows domestically and internationally including the 2011 Gyeonggi International Ceramix Biennale in Icheon, South Korea and the 2016 Toronto Design Festival. He has held residencies at the Peters Valley Crafts Center in Layton, NJ and most recently, Talking Dolls in Detroit, MI. Website Ebitenyefa Baralaye About the Artist Artist in Residence 2016, Ebitenyefa Baralaye – Part 3 Artist in Residence 2016, Ebitenyefa Baralaye – Part 2 Artist in Residence 2016, Ebitenyefa Baralaye – Part 1 Abram Artist in Residence 2016: Ebitenyefa Baralaye – "Bam Bam" Ebitenyefa Baralaye Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • The Cell

    Loading Video . . . John Estes brings us this impressive new poem in response to Philemon 1:12-16. Philemon 1:12-16 The Cell By John Estes ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: Kent Shaw 2015 ​ ​ Poetry Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ While I can hope it stands on its own, this poem is part of a longer work in progress called Utopiary which, broadly speaking, explores questions of apocalypse and perfectibility, the human inclination toward not only these ends but any projected and aimed for end, idealisms of any kind which remove us from the real present and, more importantly, from real presences. This section is a response (and a reaction) to the book of Philemon, and in particular Philemon 1:12, “I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you,” which I found pleasingly ambiguous and pregnant with possibility beyond its context. Not that its context—Paul in prison, writing on behalf of a slave to his owner—isn’t suggestive enough. Christianity, like most religions, is grounded in a rigorous idealism, even as it attempts to deal with humanity in ruthlessly realistic terms, and the poem explores the question of human autonomy in its relation to images of bondage, and of life in relation to images of death, both central tropes of the Christian imaginary which inform history as well as the domestic quotidian in myriad, mostly disastrous, but occasionally beautiful, ways. As Hannah Arendt writes, “To raise the question, 'what is freedom?' seems to be a hopeless enterprise.” Yet, still, we do. Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ John Estes directs the Creative Writing OProgram at Malone University in Canton, Ohio and is a visiting faculty member of Ashland University’s Low-Residency MFA. He is author two books, Kingdom Come (C&R Press, 2011) and Stop Motion Still Life (Wordfarm, forthcoming), and two chapbooks: Breakfast with Blake at the Laocoön (Finishing Line Press, 2007) and Swerve , which won a National Chapbook Fellowship from the Poetry Society of America. See more at johnestes.org Website John Estes About the Artist John Estes Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art Today I 'm trying to conceive a world without the word insatiable- what would become of that happy current, that urgent emptiness View Full Written Work The Cell by John Estes Go, sit in your cell, and your cell will teach you everything. — Abba Moses Today I’m trying to conceive a world without the word insatiable — what would become of that happy current, that urgent emptiness, its pit-like pleasures, without a term to house it? Look it up: the opposite and negation of sad , which shares a root with sate , its math makes me wonder why we bend so hard toward fixity and fullness. We lack a curriculum of lack, a course of study in keeping the nothingness we need from devouring us. Keep turning, she said, as we parted, as if it were the last piece of advice I’d ever need, and maybe it was, or still is. She might as well have said keep tuning, or simply keep, following the laws of parsimony which describe the reduction of all utterances, in time, to their simplest, as these acts too serve across domains, serve like ring bolts which hold us fast to the anvils of what we’d choose to last until there’s nothing left to save. Too much depends, just to crawl out of bed, upon reckoning unreconcilable acts of conservation and expansion. Never finished the article, the one I started at my bedroom desk, the one I thought the paper would take, my eye-witness account of the overturned hog trailer, right there on the highway, right in front of the house, the road smeared with blood, offal, and pig shit, swine corpses ballooning in the summer heat. The stench and traffic. Never finished that list of words they should ban from poems— who would brook a world without stars and hearts or clouds and shrouds? — as if I, having jettisoned (or been jettisoned by) God one too many times already, don’t know too well that the closer one draws to (or is drawn by) sacral agitations, how bone-dry trust in the wordhoard runs, as if already Not body, not figure, not form not what has quality, quantity, or mass, not in space, not visible etc etc etc or so says Dionysius the Areopagite, pseudo-Denys some call him, but what’s in a name? What’s it to a life so long as we have the text left behind? Here in front of me is 542 pages of Frank Stafford, whose real name was Francis Gildart Smith, The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You , in the other room is a woman not speaking to me, and I can’t stop thinking about him, caught between his wife and lover, how he left the room where the three of them (fought, wept?) and put three bullets in the center of his chest, right into what that forger, the fake St. Dionysisus, might have called his single all-complete and single cause of all, his cordis, his roboris , his animus poeticus , and that was it, dead before 30, extinguished but for the poems they’re still cleaning up, this big fat genius mess on my desk, unreadable but read aloud anyway, as all epic poems should be, a sport in Arkansas apparently (if only Kansas would claim Ronald Johnson’s Ark as theirs): I longed to be one of the monk saints so silent tending the fields then I wanted to be one of the wandering students that had taken me under their wind then I dreamed of a life on the sea a common sailer I sing but I am not a singer I write but I am not a writer Like that, on and on, hour after hour. You can read Milton in 12 (which I last did in Kansas, with a table full of students and a pot of chili), Stafford takes more like 15, but what’s time, no more than another name, another word we give, to mark an anomaly, Mark being the wrong name my psychoanalyst called me. Who is Mark? This is the question Andrew asked me over breakfast at Fred’s, hash and eggs for him, oatmeal with half biscuit and gravy for me. I stressed the diner waitress by asking for fresh fruit—wasn’t sure how the cooks would react to a request like that—and she was quicker on the take than I had anticipated, starting a glib repartee that bordered on flirtation; I remembered my uncle, years ago, once people started worrying about me or wondering, saying that you just never know where you’ll meet her, maybe a waitress, he said, it will surprise you, the one, he said, but the older I got, the more dislocated my emotional (in)competencies became, and the one was the least of my problems, but I looked a little closer at this one, unsure why in diners they never bother to introduce themselves, so short order. She poured more coffee, brought a steak knife with the strawberries, told me to be happy, that was the best I was getting today, and I looked again at Andrew, maybe the best looking guy I know, glad that he felt comfortable enough around me to eat a plate of food that a man with a Ph.D. should know better than to ingest, and he’s going to clean it, just like I, a vegetarian by declaration, don’t flinch at the dun sausage gravy. We are Pisces, and like our secrets, that’s the point of it. It equals the apophatic enrapture (or entrapment) inherent to holding yourself in reserve, to living out of sight, to being unknowable, impenetrable, more vapor than soul. A monk tried to convince me once that the supreme value was, what he called, integrity—defined as being as you appear, an exterior with matching interior— simple to use the clinical term, though he had no idea I read Climacus and so knew that a simple monk is like a dumb but rational and obedient animal, that what it denotes is one without evil thoughts or idle curiosity, a test I would certainly fail, me, an enneagram 3 with a 4 wing (?), much too engaged in the maintenance of my engramatic dissociation; Luther Sloan from Deep Space Nine describes the theory: when a person’s mind is sufficiently disciplined, he’[s]…capable of compartmentalizing contradictory information, believing one thing while doing another. We are of course, by nature, hypocrites, simpletons even, full of inconsistency while deploring contradictions— bats nesting in broad daylight, spiders forsaking the web, bears loose on the prairie. The trend these days is to speak, as if without shame, as if real, authentic, people, as if nude pictures of ourselves on our phones made us more human. And maybe they do; humility after all is beauty. Sure I’d prefer the government not intercept or store them, but I condone that sort of intimacy, the voluntary violation of one’s own privacy, better than jealousy; forgiveness and mercy better than rage. The only law is grace, with the only question being whether freedom comes from fusion or distinction. We are just people here, whatever orgiastic cult you follow, imprisoned by our cells (does the body hold or is it held?) although it’s hard to say who’s more stuck, the living or the dead, the being born or dying. Who are these people, who must be as acquainted as I am with nature, with the fastness of our position, bonded even inside the cycles we pass through, transmutations the givens within the constants, like a runner in love with what the body can do, like a heroine enmeshed in an endless quest chain, who insist we error on the side of their ideas about angels, chaste perfections who pass through walls. So when my student’s mother blackmails her adult poet son in an effort to get what she wishes, namely (and solely) that he not date the woman he loves, why is it not so plainly obvious to everyone as it is to me what an abomination of heaven this is, to speak figuratively? When St. Paul, from prison, pleads for the life of Onesimus, maybe an escaped slave, maybe an estranged brother (we need Origen’s lost fragment to settle that dispute) he says to this prick Philemon: “I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you.” And by heart he means his σπλάγχνον (splagchnon), his guts, his inward parts and inwardness, the seat of his compassion. The KJV renders it: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels. Paul doesn’t, by this synecdoche (συνεκδοχή) demand his manumission but you know that’s the strong arm he’s subtly applying. Maybe it’s counterproductive to say I think that manipulative mothers are going to hell (to speak literally), although I do, which people will be surprised some day to discover is populated only by terrorists, slavers, abusers, and terrible parents, the only ones God at the apokatastasis will refuse to absolve. I’m sorry to break it to you, saith the prophet, but even St. Paul, himself prone to minor tyrannies and tantrums, refuses to compel by force; he insists on individual sovereignty, itself an aporetic knot, a throw of lots, like the human being itself, that pure (or purely) symbolic thing, so he takes his chance that Philemon might scourge the shit (or worse) out of his repatriated property—in order that your goodness be of your own free will—which seems like, I don’t know, a sketchy bet, at best (even though American slaveowners cited the book as God-given proof that runaways must be returned—let’s add fundamentalists to that list). He even makes a joke or two at the kid’s expense, punning on his name, Onesimus, which means useful in Greek, who will one day be canonized as a Blesséd Onesimus, who in his current suspended condition of vacated-subjectivity is, like poetry, useless until put to use. Paul here invents the Western inwit, the notion that conscience conveys reliable information but the apostle, popularizer if not originator of the annoying trope in Christ , invokes a good excuse to do or say about anything— the figure of prosopopoeia, etymologically to make a face (prosopon+poein), wearing the face, i.e., or putting on the mask of the dead god, summonsing (or conjuring) his presence and performing an alchemcial coniunctio (not unlike, oh, I don’t know, a platinum filament catalyzing the combustion of oxygen and sulphur dioxide), a virtual re-enacted resurrection and assumption of an absentee’s power to effect, in effect, the epiphanic Voila! of a third thing, a new self, a slave no longer enslaved, a master no longer a heartless bastard, love manufactured from the mercury of lead. Who believes this magic twaddlerot? And recall that Paul never once mentions a miracle, or a parable, or exhorts the theotokos, his ever-virgin mother, the first heart, because maybe those tales weren’t even written much less extant; his Jesus, the Christ who lives, is straightedge, a boring guy with a crazy plan that just might work. Who doesn’t believe or want to at least in the possibility of getting better? And so when we say the rest is history we mean not only keep the moon, your hands, and your hydrangeas out of poems but that the whole of it, what we kill each other over, is a pepper’s ghost because if anything’s real it’s what’s off center somewhere on the other side of the mirror, which is no less difficult a phantom to fathom than the possibility of a new being. Maybe I will leave this room and be the first to breach the silence, be like a telemarketer trained to refuse to listen, to hear one word as another, trained to press on and not to wait, because it’s not true that the one to speak first loses, that there must be a loser, or losses, that any of it zeroes out. It’s not like a model for monogamy exists, like marriage is the only thing improved by fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Maybe I’m really a 5 with a 6 and a 3 wing. Maybe I’ve failed the one test I most sought to pass: don’t disappoint the trace of Thoreau which finds no value in outward conformity consoled- slash-tempered by the delusion of inward independence. He would hate me for spending $200 on an 1865 first edition of his letters, edited by Emerson, at an antiquarian bookshop in Sonoma. He would hate Sonoma and curse me for liking to get drunk, and no not on the liquor of esoteric doctrines. He would not appreciate the rigorous contradiction at the heart of my economy, an insufficient wildness compounded by a failed domestication. He would have an even greater disdain for the digital scan now freely available of this collection, or the fact that a market exists where it fetches a thousand dollars. Let what’s gone stay gone, HDT would say, so long as those present stay perfect. In a letter dated 1842 to Lucy Brown—the woman who introduced him to RWE (her brother-in-law), a passionate attachment biographers call it (a cathexis later transferred to Mrs. Emerson)—he says about his tetanic late brother: I do not wish to see John again—I mean him who is dead—but that other, whom only he would have wished to see, or to be, or whom he was the imperfect representative. For we are not what we are, nor do we treat or esteem each other for such, but for what we are capable of being. But when I say that I’m capable of anything I usually mean that which would land me in the clink or sink me. But as it is I cosplay each day as a respectable person, not letting on that I’d rather be looking at naked people on the Internet, lost in a trance-like tryst with a beautiful stranger with no concern for discerning between realms of the real and imagined. But such dispassion, trenchant metaphysics notwithstanding, is a luxury, a species of dissolution, unaffordable to or by my rioting brothers and sisters who rise in protest, who burn their own neighborhoods, who go to jail, who live and die in ways as beyond me as the essence of God is beyond us all. What kind of creator sky deity admires much less preaches poverty? One who’s never lived in squalor or want or gone to a shitty school or hasn’t grown up under an omnipresent threat of violence. One whose genealogy is not generations of the oppressed and ghettoed who was not the subhuman other on whose backs the new money that became the old money was made. If Jesus returns, and that’s a pretty big if, the rapture will not disappear the virtuous but open up the prisons— it says right here: the Lord looseth the prisoners— for what else did a Christ say the gist of his project was but wholesale reversal: to bring what’s dead to life, to sight the blind, to release the captives, so by Latin raptus (to carry off or snatch away) he must mean to return them. We must confront the possibility that things haven’t turned out as intended; there is no end at which all things will be unfolded, no arc or entelechy toward which the human history, despite what nature implies by analogy, moves. Truly, I say unto you, only the addict can know self denial and earthquakes happen because plate tectonics; the crust floats atop the lithosphere asthenosphere boundary, a six-mile thick slurry of sludgy rock, and when the plates shift we see what we’re worth—no birds get harmed—and under the rubble of temples we can’t protect we understand how limited the dithyramb of justice will prove. On the day my father was born Jung gave a seminar on Zarathustra in Zurich, where he examined and explicated the image of the serpent and eagle, and asked what does it mean for chthonic snake to encircle the neck of inspirited accipiter, the animal under the sun and the cleverest animal under the sun—out on reconnaissance as Nietzsche says? Something to do with inverting the age-old clash between Geist -slash- Grund : If we forget that we also consist of a living body, and try to live in an entirely spiritual medium, the body is going to suffer; and inasmuch as the body suffers the mind is affected too. It’s a terrible strain on our minds when we are not right with our bodies. So though he hopes that his beasts will guide him, it is very questionable they will. My father, a man’s man who lived to mow his lawn and keep his trees trimmed, who if born to a decadent age, like his sons, would have manscaped— such a lover, so wanting to please—like he landscaped, with delight and care. He wore a bronze belt buckle with a flying eagle icon in low relief, probably swag from some manager’s seminar years before he failed to learn to keyboard or realized he didn’t give a shit to master much less muddle through with modern business; mail and bills to pay he kept in a hollowed out tortoise shell, and a taxidermied deer head hung above his desk. What did it mean to find a book of bondage porn he owned? What does it mean to be uncursed with knowledge of him drunk or naked? He never went to church but read the Bible every day; I have no idea what, besides Republican orthodoxy, he believed in, no clue what—beyond Kentucky, maybe, his Southern sense of honor & duty, or between history and family—mattered to him most. Why was it tough to understand, when I asked him if he even loved me, what it meant for him to say because you’re mine? I wonder what hamartias bequeathed to me—let’s give a metaphor the benefit of doubt— what inbred inadequacies, I’ve fated my sons to bear without even trying: incarceration fears? feeble lungs? the stronghold of lusts and arcane dispositions masked by convention? a thralldom to pain and the body and blessed rot? Whatever, we perform it (invent your antecedent) again and again. Noah’s curse of Canaan, what church fathers called the creation of servitude, followed Ham’s discovery of his uncovered father, drunk on the dirt of his tent—that plagued soil—and laughed about it with his brothers. What does any of this explain, this pericope that Byzantine as well as antebellum bastards said sanctioned enslavement and segregation of the races? Jesus said, according to Thomas: Woe to the flesh which depends on the soul; woe to the soul which depends on the flesh. One man’s theologoumena is another man’s dogma (G. dogma ), which means opinion anyway. We have failed to advance Paul’s Haustafel , the household code that reset the relations of all things in accordance with the cosmic org chart. Today we believe in extraterrestrials, that love consists in honoring what already exists. Why was you father so angry, you ask, at anyone not like him? Racism seemed the most natural thing imaginable. You remember the scene—of course you don’t—at least it seems as if because the story was told so many times—he’s in the kitchen of a morning, standing at the window, drinking his weak Folgers, plus milk with 3 sugars, and looks out onto the neighbor’s basketball court where a bunch of n-word kids were playing, and he knew right then he had to get us out of there. You are rendered so unsure of yourself, want so much to speak right, to teach your children to navigate relating with blind ease, you are trying to describe the little girl who expressed sadness that your son had missed school, you hesitate to even call the girl black; is she maybe just the one with pig tails? In Claudia Rankine’s Citizen : For so long you thought the ambition of racist language was to denigrate and erase you as a person. |But| Our very being exposes us to the address of another; we suffer from the condition of being addressable. You begin to understand yourself as rendered hyper- visible in the fact of such language acts. Language that feels hurtful is intended to exploit all the ways that you are present. Maximal Presence: submit wholly to the pledge you made to submit wholly. He who gives himself entirely to his fellow-men, Thoreau says, appears to them useless and selfish; this falsehood one must simply learn to live with. You have of course learned the limit of how far you’ll go, that virtue in part is a kind of devouring. Simone Weil’s lays this bare in her Terrible Prayer. Father, in the name of Christ, grant me this. That I might be beyond any condition to make any movement of my body, obey any of my wishes, like a total paralytic. That I might be unable to receive any sensation. That I might be beyond any condition to put two thoughts together. That I might be insensible to any kind of pain and joy, and incapable of any love for any being and for any thing. Here is a book its author would prefer not exist, [I, Afterlife] , an attempt to account for the grief of a father’s suicide, a failure, of course, which commits the insult of being beautiful, which breaks down along the fault line of language, which made me feel, as I read it in the tub on a Sunday morning, what a fuck-up I’d create in the wake of helping myself to the other side, as I often wish to, even if I ushered in some art. I asked a group of high school girls the other day what was more important, that people are happy or that art gets made, and they to a one chose the person over the work, but had no idea that it’s the work of elegy to constitute and maintain an image of the person. It posits: the elegiac tradition as it evolves is perhaps no longer concerned with articulating the unspeakable :::::::::::::::::::::::: / :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: but rather with… / rather… / That sentence cannot be completed. / At least not how it began. / To start again. /// Our eyes are not the only way we see things. Is this what / I’m trying to say Then I remembered the vision that kicked off this congregation of concerns, A poem begging to be named “Grand Theft Auto Examination of Conscience” that someone should write, for of course those games are godless hellish anything-goes crime-pays landscapes—depraved (i.e. warped, subverted, perverted, debauched, debased, degraded, defiled, sullied, polluted) and wicked, deprived and wicked as if by capillary action of values we (we good people) consider redeemed or redeeming or redeemable, able (i.e.) to be bought back, returned, like a redemptioner, an indentured, to an ordered status of legitimate, permissible, admissible, approved, paid up, free and all clear. The point then as now as always is the pleasure of roaming an open world, even a throwback car-jacktastic world we’d never live in, a less linear life of diminished consequences and restraint, where every action’s reaction—cop shoot-outs, wrecked cars, dead pedestrians, gangstaland drug-runs, gangsterland hits, and motorcycle tricks— metes out its effects by heart power and cash haul, lung capacity and ammo clips, with the ultimate consolation, if a mission goes south, of new hope in the respawn, the re-up, the glory of the unlimited life cheat code. As with anything else, it’s impossible to know what must be known without putting in the time. So much education just to turn up money without bloodshed or jail time, finding hidden packages or picking up hookers (to get your ride rocked you need a sports car and some cash, good for a road-side plus-twenty-five hit points). But what does it even mean, to call a thing, or a place, or person godless? If one believes in a god at all, could a space, virtual or real, exist or be opened where that god could flee from and not only into? And there’s the question of what is meant by the whole heart—with all your kardia , all your psyche and ischus and your dianoia , too—this specious business of Kierkegaard’s that purity of heart is to will one thing when a man can easily enough be double-, triple-, or four-hearted like the hag fish, which feeds on the dead (i.e. tradition) like necromancers and poets. And of course, of course, this place must exist beyond good and evil, as he says: Whether it be hedonism, pessimism, utilitarianism, or eudaemonism, all those modes of thinking which measure the worth of things according to PLEASURE and PAIN are naivetes, which every one conscious of CREATIVE powers and an artist’s conscience will look down upon with scorn, though not without sympathy. No truth’s stopped anyone from trying to be true, and why should it in the absence of ironclad thou-shalt-nots, in the absence of dire repercussions? Where any thing and any one is a possible center of profit? In the terms of St. Paul, any uncircumcision can be made to appear equal to or better than every other uncircumcision. And maybe it is. In GTA the negated deity may be that stuff-strutting, ditty-humming Huggy Bear-type, a bedizened nobodaddy bedeviled by nothing but equally vulnerable to side-swipes. But everywhere else, where the venerable laws of physics apply, it’s one more word of unknown origin, a contested dereliction, striving alongside the rest of us drudges to split the differences, into which the whole of it must be thrown. Gertrude Stein learned this, the whole Room section of Tender Buttons says this. Why is the name changed The name is changed because in the little space there is a tree, in some space there are no trees, in every space there is a hint of more, all this causes the decision. We live with the notional understanding that our every act is translated into data. I live inside somebody’s metrical calculation within tolerance, within spec, within the emerging delta of marriage. Why is it so hard for people to see that what they believe in changes nothing that is? In terms of what they call owning the stack, we do not own our own stacks. Out of the foaming foment of finitude, spirit rise up fragrantly, Hegel prayed. I would have said flagrantly. The violence is inevitable, the clash of even what appears like tenderness, when our duty is to another’s body, the negotiation of bodies, and we realize at once and for all that we belong to much more than belongs to us. For nobody knows himself, Novalis says, if he is only himself and not also another at the same time. There are times we are tyrannized by another’s thought, Henry Miller goes on, hapless victims, a possession that occurs in periods of depersonalization, when the warring selves come unglued. To ask the purpose of this game [of writing], how it is related to life, is idle. The artist’s game is to move over into reality. It has been so and will be so until man ceases to regard himself as the mere seat of conflict. Until he takes up the task of becoming the I of his I. Never will I want to write a poem about the 14 million bees that spilled, spectacularly, onto a Washington highway, when their grove-bound semi overturned, what with its built-in thematic peril, its inescapable, overbrimming symbolism. Beekeepers convened to recover them, but most were lost; everyone was stung; bee colonies are difficult to save, once ruptured, because the entire hive must stay intact, with its single queen, the worker bees and attendant bees. But what good is so much theoria when there’s so much dog shit to clear each day? No good will come, today, from so much stress over the objet petit a, over formulas to unlock the promised paradoxes. The care with which the rain is wrong and the green is wrong and the white is wrong, the care with which there is a chair and plenty of breathing. I close the book and go to her. Close Loading Video . . . Today I 'm trying to conceive a world without the word insatiable- what would become of that happy current, that urgent emptiness Download Full Written Work

  • Philadelphia

    Loading Video . . . Writer Lancelot Schaubert explores the meaning of words and translations in this poem responding to Luke 8:19-21. Luke 8:19-21 Philadelphia By Lancelot Schaubert ​ Credits: Photo Credit by Dan Mall on Unsplash Curated by: Rebecca Testrake 2023 ​ ​ Poetry Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ These three pieces work in tandem. They're meant as a running commentary on (1) the sorts of people who are close to us who reject the work of the miraculous in our lives and through our lives, (2) the kinds of silly exegetical traditions that exist as little more than a prop for church splits, (3) the metaphysical absurdity of the miraculous as the miraculous, when it happens, (4) a call to see James as a miracle worker in his own right, a cousin, and someone who would have been as baffled as anyone else — though joyful — in the presence of the miraculous. Sometimes the "sons of Thunder" stuff becomes such a focus, I wanted to focus on something else for St. James. To see the other pieces from Lancelot, click the links below: Bloodlines Metaphysical Insurance Claim 0075A: The Delphic Oracle Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Lancelot has sold work to The New Haven Review (The Institute Library), The Anglican Theological Review, TOR (MacMillan), McSweeney's, The Poet's Market, Writer's Digest, and many, many similar markets. (His favorite, a rather risqué piece, illuminated bankroll management by prison inmates in the World Series Edition of Poker Pro). Publisher's Weekly called his debut novel BELL HAMMERS "a hoot." He has lectured on these at academic conferences, graduate classes, and nerd conventions in Nashville, Portland, Baltimore, Tarrytown, NYC, Joplin, and elsewhere. The Missouri Tourism Bureau, WRKR, Flying Treasure, 9art, The Brooklyn Film Festival, NYC Indie Film Fest, Spiva Center for the Arts, The Institute of the North in Alaska, and the Chicago Museum of Photography have all worked with him as a film producer and director in various capacities. Website Lancelot Schaubert About the Artist Posh Girls As Waters Cover Artist in Residence 2019: Lancelot Schaubert Dragonsmaw Daily | 1 Dragonsmaw Daily | 2 Dragonsmaw Daily | 3 Watchtower Stripped to the Bonemeal Metaphysical Insurance Claim 0075A: The Delphic Oracle Bloodlines Lancelot Schaubert Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art It would be terribly inconvenient If ἀδελφός meant fellow countrymen Or fellow man or business fellowship View Full Written Work FOR LOVE OF COMMON WOMBS UP THE BLOODLINE. By Lancelot Schaubert It would be terribly inconvenient If ἀδελφός meant fellow countrymen Or fellow man or business fellowship Or brethren in faith, step-brothers, or meant Cousins. “Cousins” throws a wrench in the wren, Metal to make wings spiral on downward: Fallen angels or men melting wax strips? Two yokels talk at the scene of The Fall: “Thought those were his brothers?” “Nope, just cousins.” It takes one trip to Philadelphia To realize “same womb” can mean mom, mother, Or sometimes an earlier womb bygone. For they treat each other less with fiat, More like Middle Eastern cousins with bombs: “Me against my brother; me and brother Against cousin; me and my cousin, you.” First same womb, same dad; same womb, diff dad; Then same womb of my dad’s dad’s dad’s dad’s— Father Abraham had many sons, sons Father Abraham. I am one of them And so are you, so let’s just praise The Lord. From stones, he said he could raise up cousins, But somehow cannot do so from cousins? “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and ἀδελφός of James, Joses And Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own cousins and in his own house.” Do we seek context? Do we even try to understand it, To see what’s right before our eyes? Mirrored? I could stack citations up, up skyward; Speak up of all the times translation slips Two yokels stare, hear the scene of Our Fall: “Nope, just brothers.” “Thought those were his cousins?” It takes one trip to Philadelphia To realize sometimes there’s a crack in bells Allegedly first sounded for freedom. Is our faith so fragile? We Protestants? Need we preserve our Quincentenary Bitterness with flimsiest evidence? Do we even know about the third one? The third Mary? “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his Mother (Mary), his mother’s ἀδελφη, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.” Poor James. To be denied sainthood simply To sully the virgin status of Aunt Mary. Philadelphia’s stones still crack. Cracked. Stoned. The oracle at Delphi was Virgin. And the dolphins get to take shape Of virgin wombs, so does Numbers 30 (The perpetual virginity verse For married women who have had their kids). But not she who bore the body of God. It’s not good enough for her. Ignore texts: Let her also bear a Bro — Jimmy’s body Close Loading Video . . . It would be terribly inconvenient If ἀδελφός meant fellow countrymen Or fellow man or business fellowship Download Full Written Work

  • Lord's compassions fail not

    Alina Potemska Lords Compassions Loading Video . . . In the past (2010-2014), Spark+Echo Arts has grouped the year into themes. 2014's themes included poverty, meals, eavesdropping, etc. In 2015, we are trying something different. Instead of thematic groupings, we have asked our artists to create works in response to specific books of the Bible. 2015's explorations will consist of: Lamentations, Philemon, Joshua, and Psalm 107. The first work within this approach, this striking piece from Ukrainian artist Alina Potemska responds to Lamentations 2:18. Lamentations 3:22-25 Lord's compassions fail not By Alina Potemska ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: Spark+Echo Arts, Selected through Artist Submissions 2015 40×50 cm Colored pencils, paper on cardboard Collage Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ My work claims to the theme of God's mercy to whole nations in general and particularly to each person. We can experience any struggles and think that it's last stage of trials. But as a rain feeds the arid land and have no limits in every day refreshing, in the same way God's love and tenderness captures us in a flow that keeps us from any trouble and problem. Even more, it doesn't really matter what issues are under the boat, it is only important that we are safe in the God's shelter and are covered by His love and mercy. We flow in His stream and it cures us and gives us felling of safety. Maybe, as Jeremiah did, we should experience some trials to appreciate this gift. During the horrible time of war in my homeland, it's natural to us ask God why He allowed this? But especially in this trouble we can feel deeply LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, and it's new every morning, so thanks to God for that! Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Alina Potemska graduated from the National Art Academy in her hometown Kyiv in 2013 and keeps her passion in illustration and printmaking. Alina is active participant in row of exhibition and takes part in social activeness through art. In 2015 she was nominated for Polish governmental Scholarship “Gaude Polonia”. “My art is a part of me and my understanding of life. I would be more than happy if it serves any person in any extend to become more fulfilled and experience something new in his life”. Website Alina Potemska About the Artist Alina Potemska Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • Of Blood and Water

    Loading Video . . . We are pleased to present a collaborative work by jazz musician James Hall and poet Emily Ruth Hazel. James created a musical reaction to Emily's poem, "Of Blood and Water" which is based on the account of Jesus changing water into wine in John 2:1-11. John 2:1-11 Of Blood and Water By James Hall ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: ​ 2012 ​ ​ ​ Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ After hearing Hermeto Pascoal's "Tres Coisas," I was motivated to experiment with the musical qualities of human speech. Emily Ruth Hazel's poem "Of Blood and Water" had caught my eye, and her recitation, with its subtle glissandi and rhythm, seemed a natural fit for use as a melody. Emily's poem plays with a subtle transformation from blue to red, and from water to wine. The musical setting similarly toys with the transformation from stasis to motion, and with various shades of synchronization. At times it sounds like the band is reacting to Emily's speech. Other times, it sounds as though we're anticipating it. I did a 2-track room recording with my Zoom and mixed Emily's vocals in, synchronized with how it was being played in the room where we recorded. This gets the spirit of the thing: it dances on the fence between in-time and free, on-pitch and just spoken, while preserving Emily's original poem in her voice. Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ James Hall is a trombonist and composer from Nebraska based in New York City. A versatile musician, his projects have spanned jazz, classical, latin, and popular music in the US and Europe. As a composer and bandleader, James was named a finalist in the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Competition, won three ASCAPlus Awards for composition, and was a featured performer/composer at the 2012 Chelsea Music Festival . As trombonist in Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra , he has performed at B.B. Kings', S.O.B's, MassMOCA, The Kennedy Center, The Blue Note Jazz Festival, and has appeared in the pages of Rolling Stone Magazine. He has appeared on several recordings with Postmodern Jukebox , with whom he has toured Europe and the US. James' trombone playing earned third place, runner-up, and honorable mention in the Antti Rissanen , J.J. Johnson , and Carl Fontana International Jazz Trombone Competitions, respectively. James' first CD as a composer/bandleader was released in October 2013. Entitled " Soon We Will Not Be Here " by James Hall Thousand Rooms Quartet, the body of work sets contemporary poems by NYC-based poets to 3rd-stream chamber music. His sophomore release, "Lattice," is currently in post-production. James holds degrees from the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in Wisconsin and Aaron Copland School of Music in New York. His teachers have included Luis Bonilla, Hal Crook, Michael Dease, Nick Keelan, Ed Neumeister, and Fred Sturm. Photo by Bill Wadman. Website James Hall About the Artist The Serpent Speaks James Hall Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

  • Heavens Declare

    heavens-declare-tibay-01.jpg Heavens Declare, Detail 1 Heavens Declare, Detail 2 Heavens Declare, Detail 3 Heavens Declare, Detail 4 Loading Video . . . Artist Job Tibay grounds his art in his Filipino roots and finding beauty in the imperfect as he marvels at the glory of God in Psalm 19:1-6. Psalms 19:1-6 Heavens Declare By Job Tibay ​ Credits: ​ Curated by: Rebecca Testrake 2016 35 x 25 inches ​ Oil on Sinamay Primary Scripture Loading primary passage... Loading Passage Reference... Share This Art: Facebook X (Twitter) WhatsApp LinkedIn Pinterest Copy Link ​ We live in such an imperfect world. Yet, even in the midst of chaos, flaws and disorder, one can always find or create something beautiful and divine. Beauty drawn from imperfection captivates me. There is something mysterious and inspiring about it. This is one of the reasons I love working on sinamay . Unlike your typical canvas, sinamay is handwoven from the processed stalks of the abaca tree . The varying widths of each strand, the knots in random spots, and the loose open weave, give it a rough, uneven, sifter-like surface. These characteristics make each piece respond differently even to the same touch and technique. Yet, these nuances and seeming imperfections make the creative process an exciting journey and experience. Sometimes it absorbs, other times it pushes back, generating a level of unpredictability that stimulates a conversation along the creative journey. My choice to work with sinamay is also a representation of my roots. Sinamay is made of abaca fiber, an eco-friendly material, woven from the stalks of the abaca tree. The abaca tree is a banana palm native to the Philippines, where I was born and spent a quarter of my life. With every artwork on sinamay, I feel as though I am exploring new grounds without ever losing touch with the place I first called home. The concept behind this artwork is simply about His glory and majesty being revealed in the grandeur and beauty of the heavens and the skies. It always leaves me in awe when I marvel at breathtaking views of the skies, the movement of the clouds, and the sun shining through it. Spark Notes The Artist's Reflection ​ Job Tibay is a New York City-based Filipino artist, who moved from Manila to New York in the summer of 2005. Entirely self- taught, he discovered his love and skill for painting shortly after college, when he decided to create several paintings (watercolor and pastel on paper) to replace all the existing wall art decor at his parents’ house, matching the new color scheme after a renovation project. However, it was not until after living in New York for almost 7 years that he started to pursue his love for painting. Living abroad inspired him to find a substrate that would best represent his heritage and style. In his desire to stay connected and true to his roots, he has chosen to work on sinamay instead of canvas. Website : www.jobtibay.com Facebook : www.facebook.com/artbyjob/ Instagram : www.instagram.com/artbyjob/ Website Job Tibay About the Artist Job Tibay Other Works By Related Information View More Art Make More Art ​ View Full Written Work Close Loading Video . . . ​ Download Full Written Work

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