New art show: Faces of Mercy

“Faces of Mercy,” a new nationally touring art exhibit, is on display in the South Lobby.fom---logo-final-smaller.jpg

On loan to Wilshire from Christians in the Visual Arts, the show features 14 original works, selected to speak to the theme of the embodiment of mercy: Feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, visiting the imprisoned.

These acts of mercy bring relief to those who suffer, but they also provide hope: hope for change, hope for relationships, and hope for a restoration of culture.

Featured artists include Bryn Gillette, Sergio Gomez, Bruce Herman, Edward Knippers, Jason Leith, Michelle Arnold Paine, Melissa Weinman and Jean Wetta.

Gomez’s painting Bleeding Borders depicts the human side of immigration and speaks to Jesus’ call to welcome the stranger. In this piece, what had been hope in the American dream unravels into physical dangers and the sorrows of separated families. Although the topic addressed feels immediately relevant in 2017 America, the painting was completed seven years ago, in 2008.

In Mary the Chalice, painter Michelle Arnold Paine depicts a contemporary Mary gazing at a crucifix. The quiet scene brings to mind the crucifixion scene in the Gospel of John, where Jesus extends words of radical forgiveness to those who are crucifying him. God’s choice of a human mother reflects God’s infinite mercy.

Jason Leith’s work invites viewers to meditate on the work of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. His portraits of Los Angeles’ homeless population, depicted on discarded materials such as cardboard, redeem what was formerly trash and turn it into fine art, thereby emphasizing the message of redemption: all God’s children—homeless and hungry included—are created in the image of God.

The ruins in Bryn Gillette’s paintings represent the destruction after Haiti’s devastating 2010 earthquake. They also represent icons of the fragile state of civilization devoid of divine grace. Gillette uses rubble and re-purposed materials from his travels to Haiti to explore the question, “What does it take to restore a nation?”

Edward Knippers’ paintings of Christ healing the lame and the leper highlight the human form of both Jesus and those he touched, his signature style of stripping away pretense to emphasize humanity.

Melissa Weinman’s Seeds of Mercy is a reminder of the abundance of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Christ permeates even the mundane objects of our lives, and the plentiful pomegranate seeds are a promise of rebirth and fecundity. Her painting Tree of Life imagines the Paradise we enter via these works of mercy described in Matthew’s Gospel.

The quiet still life paintings of Jean Wetta are imbued with the significance of the created world—created to be good and entrusted to us to be good stewards of it. Wetta’s Pardon Me quietly demonstrates the power of forgiveness in even the smallest breach of trust and relationship, while Pray for Rain reminds us—somewhat humorously—of our most basic physical needs.