Well before the start of 2018, I knew that my “one word” for this year would actually be five words that form one phrase:
Walking Strong in the Spirit
That’s the title of this striking new painting by Abbotsford artist Linda Klippenstein, which I received as a special gift this last year.
Last January, the Personnel Committee of my church surprised me by commissioning a work of art for me with the subject, style, and size to be determined in conversation with Linda. At first I was so blown away, that I just enjoyed their card and the thought of a Linda Klippenstein original.
Then I loved dreaming with Linda–would the piece be resin which is one of her current passions, or a painting, or collage? Abstract or figurative? Framed or unframed? What size? What colours? Where would I hang it? For me, being part of the creative process was as much a gift as the painting itself.
As I looked again at Linda’s work, and dreamed of the piece she might create for me, I felt most drawn to her Walking Strong series, and kept returning to the idea of Walking Strong in the Spirit–not as a self-portrait of any kind, but as an expression of faith as I’ve experienced in my life and ministry over the years and as a prayer for the future. I imagined three figures in Chinese-inspired dress with high collars and rich patterns. Colours of red and white to represent both the blessing and mourning that have been part of my life. A setting that would convey both a sense of being grounded and moving forward, and the dynamic movement of the Spirit.
Linda delivered the finished painting shortly before Christmas, and I love it! It beautifully reflects the creative elements from our conversations, makes me feel connected with other women who have taken part in the Walking Strong series, and connects me even beyond that to the broader community.
“Why are there no hands and faces?” I was asked recently. Perhaps it’s a matter of artistic style, since all of the figures in the Walking Strong series appear that way. My own answer is that the absence of facial features allows anyone who looks at the painting to imagine themselves into it more easily. And rather than having hands that emphasize “doing,” the painting focuses more on “being” and “walking”–on the movement of feet and arms with just the suggestion of hands also swinging freely forward. That at least is how I answer that question.
That’s the wonder of art, isn’t it, to provoke good questions and creative imagination about art and ministry and all of life.
Thank you, Linda, for your beautiful and engaging work, and thank you, Emmanuel, for such a special gift! I look forward to how this new year unfolds, Walking Strong in the Spirit.
Writing/Reflection Prompt: What questions does this painting raise for you? How will you walk strong in the Spirit this year?
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