Local Chattanooga Artist Depicts Light In the Darkness
By: R. L. Wilson | © 2019
[Ed. Note: My church, New City East Lake, in Chattanooga, TN, has an iron cross on the wall. Artists within our church create stunning works to fill the cross to mark special occasions throughout the year. As Advent season begins, artist Deanna Hall created this magnificent display to illustrate Christ, the Light of the World. Her explanation behind this piece is below. Enjoy and be blessed. R.L. Wilson]
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a Witness to the light. The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. (John 1:6-9 NIV)
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (John 3:19-21 NIV)
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV)
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” (John 11:9-10 NIV)
The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?” Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them…. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. (John 12:34-36, 46 NIV)
The overall theme is to portray Christ as the light in darkness. I am using shadow boxes on the cross to highlight actual light and darkness. If we start at the bottom of the cross, I begin the series with Adam and Eve.
(Bottom of Cross) Adam and Eve: Although the verses do not include Adam and Eve, I wanted to show where darkness and sin came from. The image I show is when sin entered the world. Adam and Eve’s faces are turned away from the Light. Their eyes have been opened to the pain and wretchedness that comes from disobeying God. They are ashamed and sorrowful. Yet in the midst of this pain, there is hope. Christ’s promise to bring Light into the world to save mankind goes with them as they exit the Father’s presence in the garden.
John the Baptist: Moving through the Bible, there are countless people and stories that tell us and remind us that Christ is coming. One of the most straightforward of these is John the Baptist. He immediately precedes Christ and is sent to prepare the people for the immediate coming of God’s promise. He points to Christ in this image on the cross. If you look in his eyes, you can see the hope that John feels. All the years of waiting and wondering if God would be faithful to mankind are going to be answered.
(Middle of Cross) Jesus, the Light of the World: At first glance at this piece, you might think: here is a mighty baby. I chose to portray the Light of our World as a baby because of the tension that it causes us to think about. Here is the most Mighty and Holy Being that is sent to be the warrior and defeater of darkness and sin. Yet, here He is, a helpless baby. He chose to be us in all our weakness and human frailty, subject to the curse of sin that we experience daily. Christ experienced the suffering and weakness that we have. Yet, in Him is the Light. Within Christ is the power to conquer sin, sickness, hatred. Even in the midst of this dark world, His Light spreads through all of it. There is no part of our experience that He cannot reach.
Mother and Child: This piece is about another place in the Bible where Christ physically portrays His Presence as Light. When the Israelites are in the desert traveling to the Promise Land, God shows Himself through the pillar of fire. Exodus 13:21-22: “By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.” In this cross piece, I am imagining a mother explaining to her child about God’s Presence with His people. Even though they are going through a difficult journey of faith, Christ’s light is a visual reminder of His Presence in this journey. I also see this piece as somewhat a personal longing for my children: A testimony to my children that God’s presence will never leave us or forsake us, even in the midst of our hardest journeys as a family. It is a timeless cry of believers for their children to see and feel Christ’s power and presence in their lives.
(Top of Cross) Sun, Moon, and Stars: Genesis 1:14-18: “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.’ And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.”
Here God specifically made the sun, moon, and stars to create time, mark events and create order for our universe. I also see the sun, moon, and stars as everyday reminders of God’s presence. As an artist, I love that God chose to remind us by our senses that He is with us. We can feel the warmth of the sun. We can see the softly illuminated light of the moon and the glimmers of stars from thousands of years ago. They remain constant visuals in our lives. Let the sun, moon and stars be physical reminders to us of His illuminating Presence in our lives.
(Cross Side Right) Man Hiding in Darkness: In the light we can reach our full potential as sons and daughters of the Light. In the darkness, we stumble and struggle and are eager to hide in darkness and sin. This man shows us ourselves. Our desire is to hide in the darkness and hate. This man is rejecting the Light. He does not want the Light to illuminate the sin and pain within.
(Cross Side Left) Woman Weeping: This is a woman who is in the midst of great darkness and chooses to turn her face towards Christ, the Light. She is experiencing the full misery and sorrow that a dark and sinful world brings, but chooses to look to Christ. She may not feel like everything is going to be alright, but she clings to the promise that God will be present with her. The darkness is still there, but she can feel a soft faint warmth on her cheek as a reminder that who God is will not change even in the midst of darkness.
About the artist
Deanna Hall is a local artist in the congregation of New City East Lake, Chattanooga, TN. She met her husband at New City East Lake and now has three beautiful children attending too. She is a jack-of-all-trades type of artist with a Masters degree in Theater. She enjoys welding, wood working and gardening most of all. She is blessed to share is contemplation of Scripture with her church family.