Sunday, April 22, 2007

Station 1 - Jesus is condemned to die by Pontius Pilate

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“Crucify Him!”

This piece is constructed of images of actual people gathered in mobs to witness or to carry out lynchings. It references the frightening power of mobs, as also seen in the crucifixion story of Jesus. Although Pilate, as the Roman governor of occupied Jerusalem, has the power to condemn or release prisoners, he condemns an innocent man to a horrific torturous death.

We’ve posted here the account according to Luke (see "comments" for scripture), but other gospel accounts report that Pilate symbolically washed his hands in front of the crowd, telling them that he is not responsible for Jesus’ death.

A bloody-water-filled bowl is usually displayed with this piece, to represent the water that Pilate used to wash his hands, suggesting that his hands can never become clean of his actions. He is in fact responsible for what he has done.

When have we denied or forfeited our power to do the right thing, allowing something to happen which we might have prevented?

artist: Nanette Sawyer
24" x 20"
Collage on canvas board

Images used in this collage are from the book, Without Sanctuary: Lynching Photography in America, by James Allen, et. al.

Station 2 - Jesus is given his cross

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Death of the First Born

This painting comes from a series based on the Ten Plagues and represents the Death of the First Born. The 10 plagues are to a large extent challenges related to the basic plights of man, challenges to our flawed and susceptible bodies (e.g. boils, lice), to our relationship with harsh natural forces (e.g. dying livestock, hail), to our common fears (e.g. darkness). The last plague represents perhaps the greatest fear and most difficult cross to bear: the death of our innocent children.

When I was age 5-9, we lived in a funeral home where my father was an undertaker. One image etched in my memory was the sight of a very small casket that was being used to bury an infant. This was the moment I really began to realize that an innocent child could die. So many of the crosses we carry relate to our sense of our own mortality, our brokenness, our vulnerable flesh.

What cross in our life are we asked to bear?

artist: Timothy Vermeulen
13 ¾" x 17 ¾"
Gouache on panel

Station 3 - Jesus falls for the first time

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Falling Down and Getting Back Up

According to tradition, Jesus falls down three times during his walk to Golgotha, the place of crucifixion. Although there is not specific scriptural reference to this, we can assume that if Simon was forced to help Jesus carry the cross (Station # 5), he must have been unable to do it by himself.

Forced to carry the instrument of his own death, Jesus buckled. The cross was a terrible injustice in his life, as he was an innocent man condemned to be executed in the way standard to the Roman Empire.

What was Jesus experiencing as he fell under his burden? Can we use his story as a metaphor for our own lives? What is the suffering and injustice that presses down on us?

Three times Jesus fell, and three times he got up.

What things cause us to fall down in our lives, and what things help us to get back up?

artists: Monica J. Brown, Monica Barrera, Merari Fernandez, Noe Mojica, Nick Croston, Danny LaBreque, Tim Vermeulen, Nanette Sawyer, Terra Winston, Emily Hendel, Jhonathan F. Gómez
30" x 24"
Collage on canvas board

Station 4 - Jesus meets his mother

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Jesus Meets His Mother

In this pencil drawing on paper I am representing Jesus and Mary in sorrow. I wanted to emphasize how in the midst of this difficult moment they still express affection and tenderness. They are consoling each other.

artist: Monica Barrera
9 ½" x 9 ½"
Pencil on paper

Station 5 - Simon of Cyrene is forced to carry the cross

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Helping Hands

Simon was simply walking by when soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. We imagined what Simon might have felt, and asked ourselves what was Simon doing by helping? Was he helping to crucify Jesus? Or was he providing relief to Jesus, who was breaking down under his burden?

In this image, we placed ourselves into the story, making plaster casts of our own hands in order to lift up the cross, relieving the burden that Jesus suffered.

My coming together as a community we can relieve suffering and confront injustice in a way that Simon was not able to do as a lone man.

What cross could you help to carry? What burden could you help relieve?

Trace your hand into a prayer book and write a prayer for someone else.

artists: Jhonathan F. Gómez, Terra Winston, Tim Vermeulen, Kari Stewart, Noe Mojica, Merari Fernandez, Nick Croston, Monica J. Brown, Monica Barrera, Nanette Sawyer, Emily Hendel
30" x 24"
Plaster sculpture on canvas board with acrylic paint

Station 6 - Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

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This work has two major strands running through it. The first is that we are all created in the image of God and therefore when Veronica wipes Jesus' face she is also wiping our face. This is shown by the position of Veronica's hand coming out towards the viewer. You are standing in the place of Jesus, and Veronica is offering kindness to you.

The second strand of the piece focuses on the Biblical command that Jesus gives to his followers' right before his death. He washes their feet and says "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet! (John 13:14.)

In this commandment what Jesus is trying to show is that we must reach out as Veronica did and care for others.

The canvas which the arm of Veronica is coming out of is covered with hand prints of different colors to symbolize the diverse community which literally supports Veronica's actions though their own helping hands.

Finally the arm itself is covered with biblical quotes about when people helped each other by washing each other's wounds. This text is written in English, Hebrew and Greek.

How might you be a source of comfort to others?

artist: Terra Winston
Diameter: 20"
Length of hand sculpture: 12 ¼"
Plaster sculpture on stretched canvas with acrylic paint

Station 7 - Jesus falls a second time

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Jesus falls a second time

Even though there is no actual record that Jesus fell a first or even a second time, the tradition is that he fell three times. And according to tradition when Jesus falls for the first time, a roman soldier helps him.

On the second time he is alone and on the third Simon helps him. To illustrate the second fall, I wanted to create a mood of meditation. Jesus has already fallen once and as he falls again it is my belief that this fall which is very similar to the last, holds a brief moment of clarity and meditation for him.

The subject in this photograph is in a moment of reflection, she is meditating on her fall -perhaps her sin. She has fallen before, she is alone and stands before God. She might be feeling regret, sorrow, pain or maybe in need of comfort but she has gotten up again.

Jesus' falls were never permanent. In all the burdens that we carry as humans we sometimes fall and in the same way God was with Jesus, God is always with us.

artist: Jhonathan F. Gómez
14 ¼" x 17 ¼"
Photograph with paint

Station 8 - Jesus Comforts the Women of Jerusalem

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Comforts the Women

In searching for the “comfort” in this station, I found that perhaps it lies in the sense of empathy evoked. This piece is meant to capture a moment in time on the journey through the long, arduous process of healing from a violent loss:


still birth

(in empathy) for every mother who has lost a son…

Shadow shape’s
mourning shroud

Inconsolable tears
Storm’s cloud

Falling rain’s
broken womb

Empty vessel’s
mortal wound

artist: Monica J. Brown
16 ¾" x 13 ½"
Collage on canvas board with acrylic paint

Station 9 - Jesus falls for the third time

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A time to kill, a time to heal

We are asked to contemplate “In our moments of utter weakness and pain, from where does our strength come? On who or what do we rely?

This painting is part of a diptych based on the Ecclesiastes 3 passage “a time to kill, a time to heal.” This piece represents ideas about healing. In the background the viewer sees two paintings on a museum wall.

The piece on the left is Abraham and the Sacrifice of Isaac and on the right is a traditional representation of Christ falling with the cross for the 3rd time. The possibility of Abraham sacrificing the innocent Isaac is a prefiguring of the death of the innocent Christ on the cross.

Often times I think our strength actually comes from the pain we experience, and we must often be vulnerable and open to others to experience healing. Sometimes our crosses are simply too heavy for us to bear on our own.

In the foreground of the painting, a figure applies mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. We may need to rely on others to breath life into us physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

artist: Timothy Vermeulen
26" x 16.5"
Oil on panel

Station 10 - Jesus is stripped

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Evil Flourishes

When lynching was common in the United States people took pictures of the gruesome mass murders and sold them as postcards and kept them as souvenirs. Many of the images have been collected as a record of the abuse, an ugly chapter in human history.

This piece is based on an image of one particular man who was whipped and stripped and photographed naked before he was lynched. He was a man who brings Jesus to mind. Jesus knows what this man went through, because he suffered it too.

What happens to the souls of torturers?

It has been said that evil flourishes when people of good will do nothing. What happens to our souls when we do nothing?

How might you join with others to relieve suffering and confront injustice?

artists: Nanette Sawyer, Terra Winston
30" excluding fabric extensions x 21 ¾"
Canvas board with acrylic paint and fabric

Station 11 - Jesus is nailed to the cross

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What is forgivable?

This piece represents the moment just after Jesus was nailed to the cross and he spoke the words, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”


What is forgivable?

This brought to mind for me the atrocities of slavery and lynching, which in turn brought to mind the following questions:

Are there crimes for which only penance can purge?
Is ignorance a legitimate excuse?
Can there be compassion/empathy for someone who expends excessive energy on hatred?
How much love does it take to conquer hate?
Is an agreement in your heart to not return violence for violence the same as forgiveness?

“Let me not to him do as he has unto me. Reach for the light continually…”

artist: Monica J. Brown
16 ¾" x 13 ½"
Collage on canvas board

Station 12 - Jesus dies

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The Seven Last Words of Jesus

My paintings are based on six of the seven phrases that Jesus spoke while on the cross before he died. Each painting explores a phrase and conceptualizes the moment. I believe these statements have themes, concepts and/or interrelated ideas that have been interpreted and studied since that day forth.

In the painting "I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise", Jesus replies to one of the criminals who had asked him to remember him in his kingdom. I wanted to add a surreal feel to the canvas because of the fact that I do not know how or what Paradise looks like. Basically I painted my idea of a paradise.

In the "Woman here is you son, here is you Mother" painting, Jesus and a spirit-like form of Jesus is portrayed to show comfort towards Mary and the disciple John. The painting was done with Faux finishing techniques to accent the soft and tender words of Jesus.

In the "I am thirsty" painting, another surreal desert like image is painted to have the viewer sense the hardship of thirst.

In the "My God, my God why have you forsaken me" painting, Jesus is portrayed again, in another hardship. In this painting I try to portray feelings of loneliness, anguish and despair. It's a desperate cry of fear, a feeling of being abandoned by God.

"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit" is in my opinion the most intense and climactic statement he made. I am representing a human hand and Jesus' spirit being commended to God. I wanted to show Jesus at his most human, reaching out to God.

"I am Finished" is an exploration of Jesus' spirit still here with us. It is a victorious moment, a gesture of love. It's bittersweet. It is the finalization of the prophecy and it was a form of closure for the apostles and him.

artist: Monica Barrera
Six pieces, each with the following measurements: 16 ¾" x 13 ½"
Top painting (Hands releasing ball of light): Oil pastel on paper
Other paintings: Acrylic paint on canvas board

Station 13 - Jesus is taken down from the cross and placed in his mother's arms

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She Survived

How can a person live through the kind of grief that Mary must have felt when she received into her arms the body of her tortured son?

Some may say that it is too soon to interject images or thoughts of hope, but…how does one live through this kind of pain—the pain of those left without the presence of their loved ones, the pain of those who have seen the reality of human inhumanity inflicted upon others?

There is something in the human spirit which allows us to survive.

This piece is created from the intersection of three stories, three time periods, three women: Mary, the mother of Jesus; Julian of Norwich, a 14th century Christian mystic; and Denise Levertov, who wrote a poem about Julian’s mystical vision.

Bringing together fragments from each of these women’s experiences, I’ve tried to create new meanings and a vision of hope and survival.

Julian’s vision and the full poem by Denise Levertov are included in the booklet near this piece.

Truly, we must take the time for lamentation and grief. And yet, there is something to cling to, which can carry us through it.

What is it that we cling to?

Hope? God? Spirit? Creation? Community?

artist: Nanette Sawyer
24" x 24"
Length of hand piece: 7 ½"
Plaster sculpture on wood with acrylic paint and permanent marker

Station 14 - Jesus is placed in the tomb

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Stark death.

It seems so clear-cut, so final, so black and white.

Like good and evil, right?

Or does the line between good and evil pass through the center of the human heart?

What to remember? What to understand? What to hope for?

In the tomb, find the prayer written by an unknown woman which was found on a piece of wrapping paper in Ravensbruck concentration camp, WWII.

“O Lord, remember not only the men and women of goodwill but also those of ill will. But do not remember the suffering they have inflicted upon us; remember the fruits we brought thanks to this suffering, our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of this; and when they come to judgment, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.”

What do we pray for?

artist: Nanette Sawyer
20" excluding fabric extension x 24"
Three-dimensional sculpture on canvas board with acrylic paint

Station 15 - Jesus is resurrected

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Our Eyes Were Opened

Just as Jesus’ eyes were opened through his resurrection, and just as the disciples eyes were opened when Jesus broke bread and ate with them, the community also seeks to move through the world with open eyes. We are continuing to look around for signs of Jesus, the resurrected Christ, the light of hope and healing.

The eyes at the top of the piece are copies of the eyes of Jesus in a well-known icon at St. Katherine’s Monastery in the desert of Sinai. The icon is called, “Jesus Christ, Pantocrator.” Many of the other eyes are eyes of people from our community.

This piece is also inspired by the following e. e. cummings’ poem.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

artists: Nanette Sawyer, Nick Croston, Jhonathan F. Gómez, Tim Vermeulen
35 ¾" x 23 ¾"
Collage on canvas board with acrylic paint