Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Chrysalis and the Butterfly

On April 16, we held an art exhibit entitled “Sinners and Saints” at Red Bank Community Church. We hold two exhibits a year, inviting artists from around the country to participate.

We had lots of great pieces for the show. Canadian Nobel Peace Price nominee Sharon Sargent sent us some of her remarkable courtroom sketches, accompanied by descriptions of each case. The sketches were hung on a clothesline with clothespins to create a piece she called “Dirty Laundry.” The depiction of murderers and rapists on trial fit well with our theme.

The exhibit started off with a great live “light painting” performance by Eva Flatscher and her accompanist Mavis Pan. Brooke Campbell also came down from NYC to favor us with her beautiful singing.

Local artist Sheilagh Casey contributed a really fun piece she called “Christian Training Kit.“ It consisted of a box with a mirror and a stone inside. It invited viewers to look at themselves and then cast the stone if they found themselves to be without sin.

One of the pieces I did was called “A Gallery of Saints.” It was a series of photographs that I took of members of our congregation and turned them into faux icons by adding a halo of gold leaf. In keeping with traditional portraits of saints, each person was photographed with some symbolic object to represent their identity: a mop, a plate of cookies, a bow and arrow, an apple, a Bible, etc. People were a bit surprised to see themselves depicted as saints—because we know we are far from it. Yet we also know that we are set apart for sanctification because of what Jesus has done, is doing and will do on our behalf.

In the middle of the room, I put up an installation called “Chrysalis.” It was essentially two white mosquito nets sewn together, hanging from the ceiling, forming a triangle with an opening on one side. Viewers were invited to enter it and invite God to change them. Below you can find a brief video of the installation.

Near the end of the exhibit, I noticed a little miracle. Even though there were no open windows in our space—and we are on the second floor of a commercial building with only one regular-sized door downstairs—a little white butterfly somehow managed to land on “Chrysalis.” It was oddly affirming.


  1. What a great exhibition to mount! Wish I'd seen it. Sounds like the butterfly stole the show...

  2. Yes, Debbie, it took my breath away. It stayed there a long time and I completely forgot to take a picture. Next time I do this installation, I will include some butterflies.