Home (30×40 oil on canvas) by Wendi Bernau
I curate an art gallery as part of my work in art and spirituality. All the exhibits feature artists from the congregation of a particular church. Each exhibit focuses on a central theme for which artists develop pieces with the intent to engage the congregation in theological reflection. In other words, my intent is to get people beyond whether they like it or not and talk about how it feels, what it evokes, symbolism and suggestion.
This is the first exhibit in that gallery for which I have created and exhibited my own piece. That is partly because I wanted to give as much opportunity as possible to the congregants, and partly me not wanting to appear self-promoting. However, I realize now that I may have been merely masking my own self-doubt, in that if I never entered a piece, no one could say “oh, we thought she was so talented, but now we see that isn’t true.” Artists can be very hard on our own work, feeling like a fraud. I’m working on getting past that.
So this piece was created especially for the “Home” exhibit. What does it mean to be home? What is home? What it is to not have a home? In preparation for this piece, I did an art meditation on the word “Home.” This painting is the rendering of that watercolor in oil paint. I like it better in oil. It feels more alive.
What does it mean? I don’t know what it might mean for someone else, but for me the helix is a life-path. It is a piece of DNA that we all share. Along the way of life, there are tears shed, refreshing waters, passionate encounters, anger, and growth (blue, red and green, respectively); alternating in occurrence, duration and intensity. The way the path turns from the colors, I can see where events in my life would join and separate from the touch of the divine, the times I felt nearest and farthest from unity with God. The purple wings are the flight that could be. Can I take all that and soar with it – or will I flee from it?
The tiny letters are all vowels. This is breath, given to me by the Creator and Sustainer of life. The piece as a whole has a lot of movement; there seems to be a lot of activity, yet in it there is peace. It doesn’t feel like a torrent. This piece is supposed to be about home, not an autobiographical sketch, yet my story and memories of my past kept popping up when I would reflect on it. Overall, I feel at peace when I look at this painting. Therefore I asked myself: “Could it be that when I am at peace, that is when/where I am at home?”