Learn the story behind the painting
The story behind "Resurrection"
Look closely at this painting and you will see that it is sideways. The dead man is lying on a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV line. The EKG reading on the screen behind him is flat. Right side up, the text in the screen reads, Philippians 3: 20-21. The text of this verse is written abstractly on the hospital wall:
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
This verse speaks about resurrection and the new perfectly heavenly body given after death. The painting was turned sideways to indicate this resurrection, a double meaning added when you see the man’s figure is in a sort of crucifix pose with his arms spread.
The painting wasn’t always turned like this. It started out as being the hospital scene, with the hand on the left (representing Jesus’ hand) instead pulling the body upwards into heaven. I met an abstract artist whom I showed this painting in its uncompleted stage. Being an abstract artist, she took the canvas and turned it different ways. We both gasped when we saw the figure take on a completely different quality when turned the present way. When the man had been portrayed lying down, he looked at rest. As portrayed in an upright position, the man had a suspended quality to him that was so fascinating. I decided to finish the painting in this new turned around way. The hand on the left side of the painting still represents Jesus’ hand, but I like the fact that the two are now portrayed as equals on the same level with each other. Heaven represents worship and adoration of God in a sense that his holiness and glorious are inconceivable, but it also represents communion in a way not possible on earth.
The painting idea came suddenly to my mind during a sermon in church, and it took me a while to figure out where it had come from. My dad, grandma, and Aunt have all passed away from medical problems in the last 5 and a half years. I remember my grandma’s death the most vividly because her cancer made us see her health slowly slip away. My grandma became a Christian only two months before her death. I remember her telling us a strange dream she had. She dreamed that she was dying and she saw the hand of God and the gates of heaven. My grandma put her hand in God’s and she said she knew that she would die right then. But then she heard me, her granddaughter, calling, “Grandma, you can make it!” My grandma took her hand away from God’s and then she woke up. Whether or not my Grandma’s dream was real, my Grandma was never her same stubborn self after that. Grandma came to church. She went to the front and asked for a microphone. She told the congregation, “I’m not afraid to die now, and neither should you.” I remembered this story as I was painting “Resurrection,” and right there in art class, I began to tear.
The verse included in the work is also very significant. I read this verse to my grandma a day before she died. She was not able to communicate then. She was just lying in her bed at home, eyes closed, barely breathing. The verse’s reference to the exchanging of failed earthly bodies for a heavenly body described her in that moment. Her earthly body had failed her.
Obviously, death is a central theme to this work. The sameness of death and life is astounding. Once you are a Christian, life becomes this communion with God, and after death, there is an even closer communion. This is the hope I cling to: that I will see my three loved ones in heaven again. If you look very closely, you will see little phrases I painted to my loved ones, “I’ll see you later, daddy,” “I love you, grandma,” and to Jesus, “You hold me in your hand.”
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