Gracious Spirit
June 13, 2006


In this season of Pentecost we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit who descended to dwell among us after Christ ascended to the right hand of the Father. To that end “Gracious Spirit” is a visual prayer of gratitude for that mighty gift that anoints us all to become the “oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord to display his glory,” prophesied by Isaiah.

The symbol of this theme is an image of a descending dove, representing the Holy Spirit received at baptism, comprised of stylized green leaves, symbolizing growth. The artist created a ‘tribal tattoo’ of sorts that suggests that we cannot ask to grow and expect to exclude those who do not “look like us.”

Our artists explored the irony of a mysterious Spirit in the visual expression of illuminated, fluttering wings of doves that might emulate the beating of God’s heart; the haunting quiet of candles twinkling in the tomb of Jesus; an ancient church remaining in Armenia where genocide took the lives of a million-and-a-half souls; Christ suspended on the cross against a sky of brilliant colors; an angel of Easter experiencing both music and the crown of thorns; the energy of God flowing from a mandala; the vibrant colors imagined at the moment of creation; a dove, a sunset and a Eucharist made to live forever in glass.

The merciful Spirit was portrayed in expressions of joy returned by children served by Episcopal Relief and Development; volunteers working together for their church; mosaics that bring us a vision of unity in diversity; the iconic vision of the Baptism of Christ for us to emulate.

The compassionate Spirit comes to us in symbols of God’s constant protection of his own; the spirit of Christ in the form of a dove ascending from the cross; the birds of the Bible; Mary cradling the baby; an ancient symbol carved for a church’s ambry, uniting the one who carved it with the one honored by the gift, both as oaks of righteousness to those who see and know.

The inspirational beauty of the Spirit is seen in the magnificence of this world through light gilding the morning sky; God’s handiwork of plants and flowers; an artist who received the universe when a church gave him flowers and turned the gift into an artistic expression; birds filling the air in a flight of freedom; a vineyard of dancing vines, swaying in the heat of day; images coaxed from the interior of trees; the rich gift of light and color, permeating existence, sometimes gently, sometimes with power and might, but always to delight our senses.

The variety of images offered by our artists to depict the Gracious Spirit make visual our suspension in the breath of the Spirit described in Psalm 139:

Where can I go then from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

Jan Neal, Curator
ECVA Program Director



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2006 The Episcopal Church and Visual Art