Contemporary Expression


A Gift of Grace
October 19, 2008, 12:22 am
Filed under: artwork, grace, Nancy VanReece, seven deadly sins

As part of my art study The Seven Deadly Sins, The Tao of St. Gregory I completed a work that I titled Grace. All but one of the seven studies on the sins have been purchased. Envy is still available. The larger 60″x 48″ work of Grace features expression on the grace from envy, grace from pride, grace from anger, grace from greed, grace from gluttony. Each 12″ section carries the letters of ‘G. R. A C. E.’

Joan and I have donated the painting to Holy Trinity Community Church for significant distribution of grace to the LGBT community of Nashville. We are not members of this church and may, or may not, agree with all of the denomination’s precepts but we do trust in this congregation’s intent to bring light and grace to our corner of the world. Happy Birthday Holy Trinity!
Here is my study from 2005 on each section represented in the work:
Invidere is the Latin word for Envy. It is translated “to see with malice”. Envy is about wanting what someone else has, while jealousy is the feeling you get when someone threatens what is yours. Possession is a matter of both what we have and who we are. To desire what another has is foolish because it will not be the same for us. This sin is unique from the other sins in that it is experienced in relation to other people; it differs from greed in that it is about another person having something rather than the thing itself.
The well known color representing this sin is green. The hands represent a grab or a reach for something that is not yours to have. The hands themselves are empty. There are 4 colors of green used in this work along with a mixed medium of glass beads offering texture, shine and representation of the deep cuts that seeing another’s possessions through malice can bring.
Envy= Selfishness. The Virtue against which it sins is Love. Love actively seeks the good of others for their sake. Envy resents the good others receive or even might receive. Envy is almost indistinguishable from Pride at times.
Pride is a belief in one’s own abilities that is so excessive as to deny the recognition of God’s grace. Pride is more about loving the oneself. Pride is universally acknowledged as the worst of the Seven Deadly Sins because the others are all said to stem from it: without that sense of superiority, you wouldn’t have the nerve to flout God by committing the other six. Pride is excessive belief in one’s own abilities, that interferes with the individual’s recognition of the grace of God.
The color representing pride is purple or violet. The imaging here is to show that no matter how much we build and build our blocks we ultimately box ourselves in with our deeds. It is the full ripple of the circle around us that drives the source. The virtue against which pride sins is humility. Our pride swells up only when we think we created the stone that was thrown to begin the circle.
All pride is a waste because our view of ourselves matters not at all in the end. Far better to live in truth, simply and without spin or image. This is humility, prized by many but understood by few.
Anger shows us what our boundaries are. It is meant to be listened to. It is a map. Anger is meant to be acted on. It is not meant to be acted out. It tells us we can’t get away with our old life any longer. Sloth, apathy and despair are the enemy, not anger. It will always tell us when we have been betrayed and when we have betrayed ourselves. The color red is associated with Anger.
Often, anger is aimed at the wrong person or thing, which is why, along with envy and pride, it was categorized by Dante as a sin of misdirected love. Anger becomes a sin when it causes us to lose our sense of reason, which is a gift from God. This fits well with the modern concept of anger as a loss of self-control, and a reaction to feelings of powerlessness.
Anger points. It is a bright red line. The sin comes in crossing the line rather than adhering to its warning. The opposite of anger/wrath is kindness. Kindness means taking the tender approach. The tenderness of pastels and sunlight on one side of the bright red line represent this. The harsh grit of earth tones are found when you cross the bright red line. The earth and mud colors here also represent our true nature.
While researching for information on this topic, I found that the representative color for Greed is yellow. Known for its appeal to selfishly obtain more than can be used. The sin of greed is represented here by a bronze ladder reaching toward a gold section. Greed=Selfishness The Virtue against which it sins is Generosity. This is about more than money. Generosity means letting others get the credit or praise. It is giving without having expectations of the other person.
In the research on this one of the seven deadly sins, it became clear to me that Gluttony was not about over indulgence as much as it was about emptiness. Orange is a representative color for the sin of this selfish act and is represented here as a desperate hole. To overindulge on anything is this sin. It is a musical piece played entirely to loud. It will numb your passion for living. The Virtue against which it sins is Temperance. Temperance accepts the natural limits of pleasures and preserves this natural balance. This does not pertain only to food, but to entertainment and other legitimate goods, and even the company of others.
The other two sins in the study, though not in the Grace painting are:
Sloth: In research for this sin I found that the representative color was light blue. I have used multimedia on this work to demonstrate that the choice of sloth or zeal is an action and is taken, one way or the other, everyday. You may click on the canvas to see a close up of the choices represented in Spanish.
The clinical condition of depression was quite often mistaken for the sin of slothfulness. When asked to explain the feeling of depression patients often us the terms ‘drowning’ or ‘under water and unable to get up for air’. The idea that we say we feel “Blue” when we are sad is not lost on the comparison. However, the sin of slothfulness has nothing to do with depression. It is about complacency. Being lazy is an action. Sloth is not making any effort to communicate with your maker.. Sloth = Selfishness. The Virtue against which it sins is Zeal. Zeal is the energetic response of the heart .

Lust: In research I found that the representative color for this is is not red but rather, blue, dark blue. When you first view this painting you think it to be warm and embraceable. However, when you move closer you see that the texture is extremely abrasive. The sin of lust is the craving for unnatural fulfilment . It is a procurement of pollution and a disregard for the holiness of a human vessel. Lust = Selfishness. The Virtue against which it sins is Self Control. Self control and self mastery prevent pleasure from killing the soul by suffocation.

all works (c) 2005 Contemporary Expression, a div. of Carpe Diem Copyright Management, Nancy VanReece. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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