Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Dunce and her Seven Devils

A Dunce and her Seven Devils
oil on panel 

The dunce cap carries an iconographic visual of the naughty kid in the corner of the classroom, being ostracized for misbehavior. He may be the class clown, he may have received poor marks on his homework - either way he's wearing the consequences bright and tall for everyone to see. I identify with the dunce cap wearer in my moments of feeling like a failure. It's for when I get a super self-depreciating case of the not-enoughses. Like when I feel I am not organized enough, I don't work hard enough, I'm not smart enough, I'm not vegan enough, I'm not trim enough, I'm not nurturing enough, I'm not kind enough, I'm not blah blah blah....
In twelfth century Scotland there was a very influential philosopher-theologian named John Duns Scotus. He taught at Oxford University and had a practice of constructing a paper cone to place on the head of the poorest academic student to stimulate his brain, like a "thinking cap" funneling light and energy into his mind. There were periods in history when some theologians disagreed with his ideas and would call one "dunce" as an insult to their intelligence, and so the dunce cap took on a negative connotation. 
What we may see as a punishing, humiliating disgrace was actually intended to be a tool for our betterment. Like using our weaknesses for self-improvement, to learn and grow. And beyond that, to develop compassion and humility. What a wonderful idea to look at our faults as potential, a positive tweak on perception.
Mary is wearing her dunce cap and has seven devils tangled in her hair. The question I propose is: Where does our self-doubt and our feelings of not-enoughses come from?  And what will you do about it?

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Martha and Mary

Martha and Mary24"x42"
oil on panel

"Martha, Martha..." Jesus' gentle reprimand on a warm day in Bethany is given not because Martha is doing something wrong, busying herself with their temporal thirsts. Still, the Lord entices her to consider a better part. Like the woman at Jacob's well, Mary is thirsting for the living water. Asking with her outstretched hand, she beckons the Lord to fill her cup with eternal truth, with spiritual nourishment, peace, joy, and everlasting life. With only the asking, an abundant stream of the love of God will flow beyond her capacity to receive. 
We all have to choose, every day, between many worthy options, that which matters most. There is so much to be "careful and troubled" about. When we choose to give Him all of our hearts, like Martha and Mary, we will find the needful things. This is what our Savior wants of us: to seek out the living water throughout our lifetime; to listen, learn, love and serve, until we come to know the voice of God with a humble familiarity. 

This is my submission to the 10th International Art Competition by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church History Museum.