This is part 4 of 4 of Archetypes. To see previous posts, please click the links below:
The woman at the well was a Samaritan. The Samaritans were a combination of Jewish and Greek. However, they were not accepted by Greece or by Israel, and they were belittled by both cultures. It is a big deal that Jesus even talked to the woman at the well. In fact, his followers were appalled by it. Jesus was showing respect for underprivileged populations who were ostracized by his culture.
What makes me sad is how many American Christians approach other cultures with reproach despite of the example set by Christ. It is common for someone to hear “Middle-East” and to think “Terrorists”, or to equate Africa with cultural primitivism.
In the painting, her hijab is slightly colored to represent the Palestinian flag. Today, Palestine is treated very similarly to Sumeria. They are denied a homeland and belittled as a culture. The light passing through the flag represents Christ looking past her race and culture and the opinions expressed by his own culture. Jesus reached past cultural boundaries to promote progress and understanding. Of course, the woman approaches Christ with skepticism because she too is shocked and confused by their interaction. It is amazing that Christ’s followers were fine when he told them to love everyone, but they became angry when he showed that love to someone that they saw as something less than a person. Today, I believe many Christians would still be appalled.
“I don’t think Peter was black.” is one of the number one reactions that I have gotten from this series. Peter was as black as Jesus was white. Peter is the only portrait that does not go off of the edge of the canvas. He was centered in Christ. Even when he denied knowing Jesus in an attempt at self-preservation, he did not stop believing in Christ. His faith was more than just something that he did, but was a part of who he was. I made him black, because the African Community is so firmly founded in Christ that their faith is a part of the identity of their community. I painted him to be a solid, immovable force. He is someone who is so firm in his faith and identity that you know he can’t be swayed by anything. Not that he is closed minded, but that to change his beliefs would completely dismantle his entire identity.
The last painting in the series of 12 is the non-penitent sinner. For those of you who are from the St. Louis area you might recognize the model as Jack Frost from the St. Charles Christmas Festival. Just as Pilate is the only Agnostic in this series, the non-penitent sinner is the only Atheist. His glasses represent the filter he is seeing through, which is his own coming death. His own life circumstances make it difficult for him to see the value in Christ.
This painting is the only one where the light is not pure white. I made a white paint with linseed oil instead of safflower oil which is usually used for white paint. Linseed oil turns yellow over time, especially if it is displayed out of the sunlight. I wanted the light to be a little bit yellow, because the non-penitent sinner saw Jesus when he was dying. It is understandable to not trust a man who is being executed for crimes against his government.
For me, this character represents people who cannot consider a new idea based on their own life experiences not leaving them open to being approached. Also, it shows that a message can be tainted by the way it is presented. You wouldn’t get a tattoo from someone with bad tattoos. Similarly, it seems ironic to listen to a man who is telling you about eternal life while he is dying. I think it is similar to when a Christian talks about having joy but then complains about everything.
So that is the end of the series, I hope you enjoyed it! One of the main things that I wanted to convey is that when we think about the stories in the Bible we are so quick to judge them and think, “Well if it were me, and I met Jesus I would…” but all of these reactions still exist today, and when it comes down to it, we still have the same challenges when we consider our faith.
People often say that every painting is a self-portrait. In this series it is especially true. I chose people in the Bible that I can identify with. At some point in my life I have felt similar to all of these characters in my faith, and also in the way I have reacted to the faith of others. I think that having all of these examples in the Bible tells us that however we react to new ideas is normal, but we need to be careful not to miss something that could potentially change our lives because of our knee-jerk reactions.
Thank you for reading! If you have any questions about this series, or have anything you would like to add, please comment below!