Artist Unknown

Pope John Paul II wrote in his Letter to Artists that the creation of art is an act of sharing in the creative process of God. That revealing beauty and meaning in the natural world is a gift that cannot be taken lightly.

Photographer Chris Buck, known for his unconventional and often humorous portraits, notes that artists place their “damage” out for all to see. That creating something without draws from the state of an artist’s within.

Both insights are, I think, poignant.

I was passing through a hospital this week on my way to a meeting when I spotted the above painting, artist unknown. I was struck by the color and contrast, by the sloping downward diagonal upon which the cross is shown. By the shadows. By the blue arc above the sunset sky. By the narrow beams of wood, barren of any victim.

This painting, to me, shows great beauty and stark damage. All at once.

I asked my host about it and he told me only that the painter is a survivor of human trafficking, that she had been abducted into a life of slavery and constant sexual abuse. That the road back for her has been a long and difficult one.

Knowing this, I studied her art even more intensely. And I saw her story in it.

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