Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Old Paint

Christians and Death by Execution.

21 posts in this topic

To be a Christian automatically means familiarity with a death sentence.

Here is a painting I did some time ago to address how this knowledge can be used.

It's an oil painting on canvas and it's 84" wide by 60" deep.

Pretty much life-size.

The title is "Intercession":

2348161490_aaed57b34a_m.jpg

Click here for a larger image

This is the statement that I've associated with "Intercession" :

___________________________________

A country that has "IN GOD WE TRUST" as its motto,

and which professes faith in Christian ideals,

ought to ask itself whether taking a life

is the Christian thing to do.

If Christians truly believe that Jesus Christ

died for Man's sins, it would seem to follow that

there is no need for anyone else to die

for their sins.

His intercession surely removed any justification

for a society to take a life as punishment for any sin.

_________________

INTERCESSION n

1. Entreaty in favor of another, especially a prayer

or petition to God in favor of another.

2. Mediation in a dispute.

Edited by Old Paint

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for posting your painting. A very powerful image and beautifully painted. I look forward to seeing more of your work.

I have a good friend who has worked for many years with people on death row in Texas and working for an end to the death penalty. We had lunch not too long ago and we were talking about how to be truly pro-life one has to be against the death penalty as well as against abortion but that the death penalty issue gets a lot less play in many churches that are actively pro-life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lurker here coming out of lurkdom:

There's a comic by Australian Christian cartoonist Dean Rankine that expresses a similar idea.

It's called "Sonova":

http://www.webcomicsnation.com/deanrankine/sonova/series.php

(click on each page to get to the next one - there are 4 in total).

Something I wondered when I saw both artworks - are the tables/chairs really cross-shaped, or is that an artistic addition?

I don't really know too much about it. I'm an Aussie and thankfully we don't have the death penalty.

Although there's been some hoopla recently about whether the government supports other countries' death penalties.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The posting by Old Paint follows the tradition of the images of Jesus Christ

of Giotto, DaVinci, Titian and Rembrandt. There's no anger in it, such as I

feel in the "Sonuva" cartoons. The painting invites us to look at the pure

principal of what Christianity stands for: Forgiveness. And redemption.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Something I wondered when I saw both artworks - are the tables/chairs really cross-shaped, or is that an artistic addition?

The room that appears in my painting is the death chamber at the U.S. Federal Penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana. The walls of green tile and the vinyl floor would seem ready to facilitate easy cleanup that might be needed after an execution. The table on which the condemned is killed is simply a standard medical examination chair with folding arms for any kind of injection, and that has been adapted to this purpose. This would be the table on which Timothy McVeigh was put to death on June 11, 2001 for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing of April 19, 1995.

Of course, it is in the face of actions such as those of McVeigh that the challenge to true Christians is greatest and that is when Christians must steel themselves to live the teachings of Jesus. And, too, that is when all Christians might ponder the idea that, with their tremendous voice, they could stop Capital Punishment by the U.S. Federal Government.

Christians could do this if they acted as one.

Once victory in that area is achieved, the individual states

-- some of which are all ready for such thinking -- would eventually follow.

The painting is meant as a trumpet call to rally Christians to the message of Christ: Love ye one another.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Now, to me, this is strange. Over 500 people, probably mostly Christians, have visited this page in the 17 days since I posted my painting "Intercession" here on March 21st, 2008.

That's an average of 20 people every day, which is gratifying. Since the day of posting, only three people have commented on the painting, which is no great matter

Edited by Old Paint

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Now, to me, this is strange. Over 500 people, probably mostly Christians, have visited this page in the 17 days since I posted my painting "Intercession" here on March 21st, 2008.

That's an average of 20 people every day, which is gratifying. Since the day of posting, only three people have commented on the painting, which is no great matter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the painting. Sorry I haven't said so. I am just to worn out at this moment to even pick up what ever provocation might be offered. There is nothing in your painting or your statements that I find objectionable or that I disagree with. From your tone, I guess you find this disappointing.

Am I pleased that my Governor vows to defend the Death Penalty? No.Should we as a society kill people back? I would say no. Do I appreciate my government conducting revenge killings? No.

interesting statistics:

In 2007, 42 persons in 10 States were executed -- 26 in Texas; 3 each in Alabama and Oklahoma; 2 each in Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee; and 1 each in South Dakota, Georgia, South Carolina, and Arizona.

# Of persons executed in 2007:

-- 28 were white

-- 14 were black

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW, this is my first look at this thread. I love discussions about public policy issues, but popechild is right - while discussion of the piece itself belongs in this forum, discussion of the death penalty belongs in the politics forum. I think I avoided this thread initially because it was in the wrong forum.

As to the painting itself, I think it's well-executed (sorry!), with a very fleshy Jesus (whose face looks very Warner Sallman-ish) and a palpable sense of the miraculous in a this-worldly setting. He hovers off the table like Jesus in Dali's "Corpus Hypercubus" in between heaven and earth (a play on the word "intercession"?). It makes me wonder what Jesus' role in this image is. Is He there to stand between the condemned and God, or is He the condemned One Himself, ascending after His death? The face does not look alive, so I am unsure where the resurrection fits in to this image.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I love discussions about public policy issues, but popechild is right - while discussion of the piece itself belongs in this forum, discussion of the death penalty belongs in the politics forum.

That is correct. On behalf of the other admins, thanks in advance for keeping discussions in the relevant forums as much as possible.

If posts need to be moved around so as to keep discussions on topic, PM me and I'll take care of it ASAP.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah well, that's four people who agree that I've posted in the wrong forum. Darn me for getting Art mixed up with Politics! But it does seem that there is a general desire to move this subject. As a newbie, I don't know how that works. My hope is that, if the postings have to be moved, that the content and arrangement continue on the new site, pretty much as they are now. Is that how it works?

If it is moved, I would like to add a subhead to the title of the topic to prep viewers that the subject, although now designated a matter of politics, does start with the presentation of a painting. The subhead could simply be just that: A painting.

I must admit that I had to google Warner Sallman to know who he was but, of course, I recognized his head of Christ immediately. I can't tell, however, whether your connection is approving or not. :-) Sallman's image, famous as it is, tends to be somewhat prettified

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I must admit that I had to google Warner Sallman to know who he was but, of course, I recognized his head of Christ immediately. I can't tell, however, whether your connection is approving or not. :-) Sallman's image, famous as it is, tends to be somewhat prettified — yet so well known!

It's asked what is Jesus' role in the painting? Certainly not between the condemned and God — but, rather, between the condemned and the table which is waiting in this Death Chamber. What we see as flesh represents the spirit of Christ in peace, which it is hoped will hover in the minds of all Christians when they hear that another human being is condemned to be put to death under the laws of men.

The Warner Sallman connection, like the Dali connection, is neither approving nor disapproving - it's merely an observation. I wasn't sure if you intended for Jesus to look like the Jesus in Sallman's works or not.

If Jesus' role in the image is to stand between the condemned and the table, then his hovering seems strange. We see no condemned man other than Christ; Jesus' body is interposed not between the table and the door - where we would expect the convict to be arriving from - but between the table and the ceiling. In fact, Jesus' body is rotated towards the viewer and away from the door. This confuses me. Jesus Himself has closed eyes (as best as I can tell from the digitized image) either in slumber or death, I cannot tell. His pose is cruciform, yet His body seems almost healed of His wounds, which leave only minor scars. Guards peer in at the windows, but seem to be otherwise disengaged.

It's a skillfully painted work, but I have trouble reading it to say what you indicate it says.

Edited by CrimsonLine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm not quite sure what you mean by "you may be warning people away from a discussion they'd otherwise be comfortable having about the art itself". How would a conversation about this art itself proceed if participants were to ignore the message contained within the painting? Would they discuss composition and perspective? Light and shade? Anatomy or accuracy of objects within the scene?

Isn't social commentary a common element in art? Can Picasso's "Guernica" only be translated as propaganda? Should discussion of the painted protests of Diego Rivera be confined to a politics forum?

While paying deference to the myriad disciplines of painting, a narrative painting contains an opinion and generally it projects a thought that will possibly influence the thinking of viewers. For those who may not immediately grasp the artist's intent, the painting may be accompanied, as in this case, by an artist's statement. The aim is undoubtedly intended to promote discussion.

That my statement covered any doubts regarding interpretation of "Intercession" seemed to be borne out by the first few responses immediately after the posting. There was no doubt that those viewers "got it". They were among the first half dozen who viewed the painting. These were followed by 500.

There's a Flannery O'Connor quote that I'll butcher (though I'm sure plenty of folks around here could fix it for me) where she was asked about the meaning - in a nutshell - of one of her short stories. Her response was something along the lines of: "If I could give it in a nutshell, I wouldn't have needed to write the story." Certainly everyone evaluates art differently, but to me, your painting - while seemingly a commentary on the death penalty - is in and of itself worthy of thought and reflection. I *think* I may know what you're trying to say, but my process as a viewer requires me to study and engage the painting on a deeper level if I truly want to try to get at what it's saying. When I read the attached artist statement - and to an even greater degree when I read the accompanying call to action ("they could stop Capital Punishment by the US government...") - I no longer have to engage on any level with the painting. It's now been boiled down to a nutshell for me, and is no longer about artistic interpretation (which does often include social commentary) but is a political statement. ("Stop capital punishment.") I'm no longer in a conversation with the art, I'm sitting on a pew listening to the artist behind the pulpit preach to me. I don't mean in any way to sound harsh, I'm just trying to explain what it is that feels like propaganda to me.

You say my "comments are somewhat antagonistic" when I compare viewers who haven't commented, with those passersby in the parable of the Samaritan. I never intended to give offense, but merely to create awareness. In Christ's telling, the vital thing that's passed to us at last is: a man helps his fellow man. In order to make its point of non-involvement, the parable gives an example of the actions of two people (albeit of vocations wherein one might expect more sympathetic behaviour). In my recent posting, I'm referring to no response at all on the part of over 500 people in 17 days. Twenty people a day looked at the painting; read the statement; and for their own reasons "passed by on the other side".

I get the comparison, but I see no reason to imply a connection between 500 people deciding not to comment on the thread, and 500 people "passing by on the other side." The flip side of your argument would be that people commenting on this thread are the equivalent of the Good Samaritan stopping to help the man on the road. It's not an accurate analogy, and serves no purpose beyond trying to make people feel guilty - not for not doing anything about the death penalty, because you don't know what people are or aren't doing about the death penalty - but for not commenting on an internet thread. That's silly.

Not for a moment do I think that the largest percentage of these people (a) approved of the painting as a painting, (B) were ready to form an opinion regarding the accompanying statement, or

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This is probably a good comment to move by itself to a new thread in Politics if you want to have that discussion (you can PM opus if you do), but I'll just say here that no one's deciding whether or not anyone should die. We all die. The question is when and how. If we believe that Christ's death was substitutionary - that is, that he died in order to justify us before God because of our sin (and you'll get Christians who disagree about even this much) - then what we believe as a result is that there's no longer a need for us to die (spiritually) as a result of that sin. Death row inmates don't die spiritually for sinning against God, they die physically for breaking man's laws. (Or at least for being convincted of it. ;)) No one is passing spiritual judgment on them.

Wow, pope, that's a deep and thought-provoking paragraph... Very interesting!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I get the comparison, but I see no reason to imply a connection between 500 people deciding not to comment on the thread, and 500 people "passing by on the other side." The flip side of your argument would be that people commenting on this thread are the equivalent of the Good Samaritan stopping to help the man on the road. It's not an accurate analogy, and serves no purpose beyond trying to make people feel guilty - not for not doing anything about the death penalty, because you don't know what people are or aren't doing about the death penalty - but for not commenting on an internet thread. That's silly.

There's a sense of proportion that the painting HAS but the comment LACKS. Like popechild said, there are a million reasons why a thread on A&F might not get much action. A forum is, to some degree, a community. If someone comes in to your community, off the street, and says loudly, I WANT TO HAVE A DISCUSSION ABOUT THE DEATH PENALTY! with no preamble, how eager would you be to engage him? What if you'd just finished a month-long debate on the death penalty, and were tired of talking about it? You have no idea how rational or reasonable this person is - you might be signing on for abuse, or worse, interminable conversation with a whack-a-doo. You don't know what his theological or political views are, how well he reacts to criticism, whether his brother was executed by the state, or anything about the guy. How would you respond?

FWIW, I'm happy to engage in the discussion with you, although I have a lot of irons in the fire right now. Go to the thread linked to above, read it through to get a feel for the community, and then post a response. I'll do my best to get into it with you.

Okay, back to the art.

Edited by CrimsonLine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Again, looking at the piece and reading it - I read it through Evangelical Christian eyes. For me, I see the death chamber as a place that I deserve to be, for my rebellion against God. I see the space under Jesus as a space reserved for me. But I see Jesus interceding on my behalf before God, so that when God looks down, He sees the Crucified rather than the condemned. For me, the fact that Jesus is between the condemned and God is a good thing - in fact, the best of things.

Jesus found me when a stranger

wand'ring from the throne of God

He, to rescue me from danger

interposed His precious blood

Once you have a floating Jesus, you're in the realm of the spiritual, and if that's a spiritual execution table, whoever's strapped to it deserves to be there, and only the intercession of Jesus can save them.

It's hard for me to see a floating Jesus and think of it as a physical execution table.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is why I love you people. The ability to reflect so articulately on so many levels astounds me. Thank you to all who have posted, especially Old Paint. As it has previously been acknowledged you have walked in as a new-comer to a community that has been around for a long while; these discussions have been had and it may even be a little cliquey at times, which can create a pronounced feeling of being an outsider. However, I think if you stick around you will find that the people here will engage with most anything as long as it is contextually placed in the correct forum. ;)

Thanks for posting your piece. As I attempt to engage with your work, it becomes a little difficult to separate your painting from your statements. It seems to me that we need to be careful how we assert the Christian connotation in the phrase

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello?

Old Paint?

It's been a week since your last post, and there are actually folks here willing to discuss your actual painting...

Care to join us?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Everything in life is interrelated to God. If we can't freely talk about art and faith as it relates to our culture today we are missing out. I find this painting extremely thought provoking. Is there a forum that discusses art that relates to our culture and faith?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0