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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jim Baldwin

Hunkered Down Homilies – Beauty

A contemporary painting with orange and blue colors.

I make no claim to be an art connoisseur.  I have not studied the great masters of Renaissance art.  I do not stay informed on up-and-coming contemporary artists who are all the rage right now.  None of the art decorating the walls of our house will show up on Sotheby’s auction floor. However, while visiting some friends down near Calabash, NC, we walked off our seafood lunch in an art gallery in the seafood capital of the world.

There were some interesting pieces on the walls of the Calabash gallery.  I admit I did not understand some of the pieces (like the bald-head man holding an egg.)  My favorite pieces were the ones that left room for the observer to create meaning alongside the artist, such as the one pictured above.  Probably influenced by the coastal environment of Calabash, I imagined the artist sitting on a sandy shoreline, gazing out over a foggy marsh.  The sun has just peeked over the horizon and is casting its warming glow across the scene, bringing the day to life.  You can see the weathered trunks of trees stripped bare by hurricane winds and years of blistering sun.  Appropriately, the title of the piece is Daybreak.

However, if you read the card attached to the bottom of the frame, it says, “Hyundai Honour Container Ship – photography.”  The owner of the gallery walked up as I was trying to make sense out of the tag.  “This piece is actually not a painting at all,” she said.  “It is a photograph of the side of a rusty, cargo ship that is no longer even in use.”  I was stunned!  The artist had the vision to see beauty where there was ugliness.  She recognized value in what others considered worthless.  She made art out of trash. 

The prophet Isaiah wrote, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”  (Isaiah 61:1-3)  Jesus quoted this passage in his inaugural sermon, claiming the role of creator, comforter and encourager.  Throughout his ministry he found beauty in those discarded by the world and reclaimed lives that had been tossed aside.

Of all the beautiful things God has created, “We are His masterpiece.” (Ephesians 2:10)

-Dr. Jim Baldwin

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