Bearing Witness: Artist Statement
Almighty God, who hast given us the gift of sight, grant that we may see not only with the eyes of our head but with the eyes of our heart also, that we may perceive the beauty and meaning, of all that we behold, and glorify thee, the creator of all, who art blessed forevermore.
~ George Appleton
This prayer has been important to me for many years, in both classroom and studio. It serves as a reminder that we are called to look at the world around us with attention and empathy. As an artist I feel that call with special intensity: I want my work to bear witness to the beauty we so often pass by without noticing, and to the sorrow and suffering from which we might prefer to avert our eyes.
In praying the “Stations of the Cross” we bear holy witness to Christ’s incarnate life: his birth as one of us; his ministry among us; his Passion and death for us. We recall as well his identification with those who are thirsty or hungry, naked or sick; with the prisoner and the stranger. We are to look on the “least of these my brothers and sisters,” as we look on Christ in his Passion.
The woodcut “Stations” in this exhibition are stark depictions that convey in graphic terms Christ's Passion and his gradually diminishing energy. But they do not appeal to our pity; rather, they show Christ's compassion and strength in the face of suffering. My friend and colleague, systematic theologian Kate Sonderegger, has worked with me to combine the woodcut images with scripture, chant, and prayer to create a contemporary Stations service, published in “Praying the Stations of the Cross, Finding Hope in a Weary Land.”*
We remind readers in our book that when we pray this, or any Stations service, “we stand in a long tradition of imagining and entering into Christ’s suffering; of joining prophetic texts with Gospel narrative, Israel’s deliverance with the world’s redemption; of linking the Passion with the pain and sorrow, darkness and injustice of our own day.” May this service, and these woodcut Stations, be a gift and a promise to you this Lenten season.
* “Praying the Stations of the Cross, Finding Hope in a Weary Land” by Margaret Adams Parker & Katherine Sonderegger (Eerdmans, 2019)