This extraordinary portrait of the face of Christ was created by the remarkable artist, One Nation Under God (formerly known as Steve Kreuscher. He is now seeking a suitable Church that would like to incorporate this great image into its sanctuary. ) By a fortuitous "accident," we became friends when I posted one of his mystical paintings of The Immaculate Conception of the Divine Degausser at Gay Mystic - without permission, I might add.
When I first viewed this astonishing painting, I was stunned into silence, because One Nation's work has such a powerful effect on the viewer, drawing her into the interior depths of being. It took me several minutes before I realized this was not an image of The Immaculate Conception, as we have come to think of it (mythologically or not) because then the feminine figure would be that of St. Anne, the mother of Mary. Rather, this is a painting of The Annunciation, that moment when Mary's YES to the Spirit incarnated the Divine Son within her womb (which can actually be seen within the figure's lower quarters). Other symbols include the flowering boat, the stream flowing into the horizon, the citadel on the left, the frozen fountain on the right, the flames of fire, and of course the white Dove itself, descending from a mysterious figure above. Rarely, if ever, have I seen a more powerful image of the spiritual fecundity of the feminine than this radiant work of art. It stuns the viewer into silence, suggesting realms within realms of infinite and multiple spiritual dimensions, and resonating with the viewer's own interior depths. In fact, it brings the viewer's spiritual depths into conscious awareness, symbolizing for us our own most intimate mystical reality, and the indwelling Spirit within. Such is the power of great religious art to evoke the mystical and the sacred. Even the title is shocking in it's originality, The Immaculate Conception of the Divine Degausser. 'Degaussing' is the process of eliminating an unwanted magnetic field (Wikipedia), and clearly the artist means to suggest the power of the Divine Son to eliminate from the world the negative magnetic field of "Original Sin."
'One Nation Under God' very graciously thanked me for featuring his work (rather than scolding me for my presumption) and we exchanged a series of emails through which I came to know more of the work of this very unique and deeply spiritual artist. He referred me to his website, Yessy Art Gallery, where more of his work is on display and for sale. Preparing this post on One Nation's work reminded me of the remarks made by Robert Dessaix, quoted in my previous posting, Twilight of Love, that 'the music, paintings, Cathedrals,' don't make up for the 'huge disappointment' the Church has become to many. Perhaps for some, but for those individuals whose hearts are open, sacred art of this quality has the rare ability to assist in a religious awakening. At the very least, it conjures realms of mystery within our own being that make us pause, reflect and wonder.
Another astonishing painting, which evokes the power of the Church at it's most mystical is this one, entitled, The Angel Comes. The symbols need no explication, the divine light within, the luminous cross which casts a shadow before the couple below, the beads of prayer evoking the rosary, the parent figure pointing the way to the young girl, the severe angular designs - which, when the viewer steps back from the whole, clearly become the welcoming arms of the Angle figure, which is the Church itself. In times such as ours, when so much heartfelt (and heartbroken) criticism is leveled at the Church and it's official leadership, it's well to be reminded by such glowing works of art of the mystical dimension of the church which transcends all reasons and disputations, divisions and disputes. Even the black cross itself that shadows the path for the two figures below, suggests the trials of faith that await the seeker before one can cross into the threshold of Divine Light.
One Nation has since added this 'correction' to the above painting. Rather than amend the posting itself, I will quote his comments in full as a reflection on how we subjectively interpret an artist's work:
The Title of the piece is "Trinity's Angel", and it is about my very close personal love relationship with my 8 year old granddaughter, (who also is a great artist herself also, for 8 years old. ), and it is also about me teaching her about Jesus and the things of the Lord, and about angels watching over us, and about what her name, Trinity, means spiritually speaking. When she was 4 years old, I had her pray with me to ask Jesus to come and live in her heart, and Jesus has meant everything in the world to her since that fateful day at 4 years old when she had her very powerful mystical experience.
As a fitting end to this reflection on this remarkable religious artist, here is another heart stopping piece (in honor of artist, M. C. Esher) which evokes the formidable and disorienting power of the sacred, turning our ordinary perspective upside down and dissolving our customary sense of self through the relentless and terrifying power of the purifying Spirit. Look closely at the eyes as the ichthus (fish) becomes the dove becomes the ichthus becomes the dove again (The ichthus is the Christian symbol from the Greek, taking the first letters of the phrase, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior). The dark, blood-red cross transforms into the luminous, glowing Angel figure, whose wings blend with the dove-like figure above, whose own outstretched wings embrace an image suggestive of a sea shell, a symbol used for centuries in the Catholic tradition for pilgrims engaged in the religious quest. Pope Benedict, in fact, has a scallop shell at the point of honor on his coat of arms.
For those familiar with the image below, the sea shell in One Nation's painting above might also conjure in the memory the great painting by Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, the chaste goddess of Love.
As mentioned above, One Nation Under God is looking for a suitable Catholic Church that is interested in using his portrait of the face of Christ, posted above. If you know of such a church, you may contact him at his website, Yessy Gallery. One Nation has made this final comment about his intentions for his Christ portrait:
I want the portrait of Christ to be about 12 to 20 high, multi-layered, very powerfully 3-D, with strong white light shining through the inner most white layer, and the necessary lighting to light up each layer, so that even in a candle light service the whole portrait of Christ will be lite up and glow outwardly towards the congregation, in such a powerful way, that it almost enraptures their spirit into Heavenly places just by gazing upon it as their heart and their minds dwell upon God.
I have found the work of this remarkable 'Catholic' artist to be deeply inspiring and uplifting. Contemplating his work has brought a healing to my own soul and a clarity and serenity as well, making me more conscious of and more grateful for the infinite riches of the indwelling Spirit of the Divine Degausser.
By way of a lovely contrast, I would like to close these reflections with the work of another spiritual artist who draws inspiration from another great religious tradition, Thai artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat.