Nigh on two years ago I received an email from Elizabeth Duffy, a writer from Indiana, wanting to ask me a few questions about my art for her blog at Patheos. She sent questions and I sent back my answers. It went on for three or four months like that, and trust was built. In the end she shared our interview in four parts on her blog. Meanwhile Elizabeth felt the fruit of our dialogue merited a wider audience, and she went in quest. Image Journal took the bet, and Elizabeth went to work.
I owe a debt to Elizabeth, but not necessarily for publishing an article about me in a magazine, although, that too is cool, and I expect that the measure of artistic validation it lends me is not insignificant. It is for her time and her witness that I am grateful, it is for her trustworthiness. I suspect most artists wonder, like me, if all the labor and turmoil that goes into making art, which purports to have emerged from a deep place in the created heart, is not the dead end of futility that it so often seems to be. I know at least that it matters to Elizabeth, so much so that she built a soap box and voiced it to as large an audience as she could muster. More sacred, she proved her trust with those treasures in my heart which I was able to share with her. That carries weight. Thank you Elizabeth. You came along side me and we plowed together. We even made the cover.
With genuine authenticity (I know it’s redundant) and authentic hunger, Elizabeth writes for a variety of different outlets, including Image Journal’s blog, Good Letters. The best place to start and catch most of it, is at her personal blog.
“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills…” Exodus 31: 2 & 3.
Bezalel is kind of an early renaissance man, thousands of years before Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, or Durer. More importantly he was faithful to God’s design of him as a craftsman. He was found worthy to build the design of God concerning the tabernacle and all of its parts. As a craftsman and artist, it is hard to comprehend anything so significant to my earthly labors as to manifest on earth something that was authored in the very heart and mind of God.
Elizabeth Duffy asked me about influences and progenitors in her interview with me last year. Here is an excerpt of my response pertaining to Bezalel: I hope, maybe, to be in the line of Bezalel, who fashioned so much for the tabernacle, making the sacred things that were part of the “technology” of worship of His God for his community. Personally, I couldn’t ask for more than that. Bezalel is valuable as a paradigm of an artisan of broad experience and skill. He could work in many trades and arts with skill worthy of God’s Tabernacle. My good friend reminds me of the value of a man of that breadth of experience and skill in contrast to a culture that places a premium on experts of high degree in a single field. When I wonder if I am hurting myself by embracing so many disciplines, I am grateful for Bezalel and his place in God’s story, and a few other men I have encountered who are champions of excellence in this way. The drawing, an imagining of a portion of Bezalel’s tent-workshop, started two or three years ago, finally over the past two months I was able to finish it. It is composed along the lines of another drawing, Go On, Adam, Breathe. An potential series of drawings? The drawing to me feels so limited, compared to the vastness of what could be explored and depicted, as a task to learn about Bezalel, his labors, and his relationship to his God.
Elizabeth Duffy has been posting parts of an interview she began with me last spring and summer. To date, this interview consistutes the clearest and really, only articulation of the beliefs and values behind my work. I hope that you will take the time to read it. The interview will ultimately be posted in it entirety on this site, but for now, here is part 1, part ll, part lll, and the final bit part lV. Please take the time to read some of Elizabeth’s writing as well. She is authentic, humorous, and insightful. Her wit and self-effacing style reveal a woman on a significant journey with valuable things to say.