Good Friday In Abstract

April 06, 1995|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

Members of St. Martin's-in-the-Field Episcopal Church will have more than the rector's sermon to help them reflect on the meaning of Good Friday next week.

The members also will meditate on wall sculptures crafted from handmade paper, tree roots and a frayed electric cord.

The sculptures represent eight stages of Jesus' journey to death, chosen from the Stations of the Cross ceremony.

The art work will be placed around the church sanctuary next week.

On Monday, during the Stations of the Cross, the artists will comment on their pieces and members will reflect on the sculptures.

"We wanted to look at this in a very different way, symbolically," said Peg Swartout who, along with Judith Paris-Wear, created the abstract pieces.

The artists used several nonpaper items to symbolize their ideas and placed them on top of the handmade paper cross, on which the horizontal bar is often implied by a wreath-like frame, also made of the paper.

Ms. Paris said they wanted to link the images of Christ's death almost 2,000 years ago with ideas people can relate to today. "Many of the pieces that I did are very directly related to social issues," said Ms. Paris, an art teacher at Anne Arundel Community College.

In the first piece, "Jesus is Condemned to Death," she illustrates her social concern. A thin arm, tattooed with numbers, reaches up toward the center of the cross, where prison bars are half-lowered inside the wreath-like frame.

The bars represent locking someone in or out of something, and they show condemnation, said Ms. Paris.

"Today we are still condemning people as well as locking people out -- women, blacks, Jews, go down the line," Ms. Paris said. "We have whole classes of people that we lock out, block out of our lives."

She said the numbers on the arm also relate to the Holocaust.

Ms. Swartout said she wanted to highlight interpersonal relationships.

"I was thinking about our one-to-one connectedness with God," said Ms. Swartout, a former nurse and art teacher. "I got very aware of issues, like, 'Am I my brother's or sister's keeper?' "

The sculpture she made for "Simon takes up the Cross" has a paper cast of her wide hand and arm placed across the dangling, bleached roots of a spruce tree that represents the cross.

"I like to have that hand there because it makes me aware that I need to be supportive," she said.

Ms. Paris said the church's rector, the Rev. Patricia de Beer, asked her in February to do the work. Ms. Paris accepted, then asked Ms. Swartout to work with her on the pieces.

Melissa Timmerman, a church member, said she was surprised by the work. "They were not what I expected at all, not traditional," she said. "But because of that, I could tell they came from the heart, their spirituality."

She said the artwork also helped her connect the story of Christ's death to her life.

"They were more thought-provoking and more inspirational than the traditional stations," she said. "It made me think on a more personal level about the Stations of the Cross. It really brought it into today and my life."

The art pieces will be displayed at St. Martin's all next week, and beginning April 23, they will be on display at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Severna Park.

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