When first hearing about the Bach assignment, fruit came to my mind first. After sketching some ideas, food became more prominent in my mind. I chose to create a still life of what I think would be very symbolic food items. A rack of lamb, a glass of wine, a chunk of bread, and a bundle of grapes can be related to Christ's passion in various ways.
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This image invented itself in my head as I sat listening to Bach's St. Matthew Passion. This image is my own poetic interpretation of Jesus' crucifixion, as musically depicted by Bach.
The Idea behind this painting is the dual sides of a martyr. The perfect statuesque side is breaking away to reveal the mortal side with all the flaws and imperfections that come with being human.
The magnitude of St. Matthew Passion is both immense in its sound and intimate in its portrayal of suffering, death, sacrifice, and ultimately renewal. The way that death gives way to life, and the juxtaposition of the monumental and the intricate is something I associate with the natural world: death gives way to renewal and continuation each spring; as Frost wrote, "nothing gold can stay." The symbols I used of the heart as a cocoon or chrysalis were inspired by the use of butterflies and moths as symbols for the soul in both Christian and ancient MesoAmerican beliefs, in which sacrifice is a necessity for existence.
In my piece I've illustrated the winged lion—the mighty symbol of Babylon, part of the winged four evangelists—and through Bach's Passion, cast him in valiant suffering. He is the wounded and anguished symbol of the evangelists, of a Christ figure, crowned in the thorny symbol of J.S. Bach.
My Beethoven piece represents the Battle of Hanau which Beethoven's 7th symphony was conducted for as a charity concert for the wounded soldiers. I tried to capture Beethoven's imagination of his musical piece in my painting.
My piece attempts to depict the ghostly and supernatural idea of resurrection. The image of a skull as a nest and safe haven for life plays on the idea of death yet all the while providing life. The egg, while being an obvious object to imagine in a nest, also emphasizes the idea of rebirth and the renewal. The textures and gritty quality the piece displays share a sense of age and endurance.
I used the emotion of the song to influence my ideas. I concentrated on faces and eyes, using a mostly monochromatic color scheme.
This painting is not about the specific religious ideas of The Passion of St. Matthew. I am critical of religion and chose to portray this by way of a twisted tilapia, half of its skeleton exposed, impaled by skewers. Meant to resemble a dollar symbol, this shows the ambiguity of religious ideals in modern society. Bach's "The Passion of St. Matthew" served as a muse to influence the mood of the piece alone.
With this piece, I wanted to create a simple image that reflected the power of the music in taking over a person. Bach's St. Matthew's Passion is a very powerful piece and the orchestral instruments are dynamic so I wanted to portray this with my piece. I wanted to create the feeling of the music and the story taking over the figure, who is conducting and reflecting on the religious symbolism it embodies.
* Selected to be displayed in Symphony Hall during Bach St. Matthew Passion concerts March 30 and April 1, 2012.