IMAGE OF THE WEEK
“World Mother” is the second of two illustrations of the same concept. Both were commissioned by United Church of Christ’s publishing department – first for one of their printed bulletins, and a second time for their “General Synod” national conference. The painting shown above is the second version, commissioned in 2002. Here’s World Mother version 1 (not a great reproduction . . . all I have is an old 35mm slide).
This was an interesting assignment. UCC wanted an image of God as mother – not once, but twice – a “great mother” embracing a multicultural world. How refreshing! I was honored to be chosen for the assignment. Version two would be enlarged to an eighteen-foot banner and featured throughout UCC’s huge annual event.
But with this second assignment came a curious caveat: the image must be designed in the shape of a comma. “A what?” I asked – for back in the Stone Age, I communicated with my clients by way of telephone. Yes, a comma – to imply the open-ended, endless nature of God’s spoken word. The theme of the conference was “God is still speaking,“.
As a child, I used to see letters and punctuation as figures and faces all the time. So I started fooling around with commas on tracing paper, bending them into figures, gestures, and faces. Tracing paper is my best friend – the best medium for trial and error. It wasn’t long before the comma took the form of a woman, her face bent in profile, cradling a basket. The illustration quickly took shape from there. Apart from the earthy colors of the mother’s hair, skin, and wooden bowl, everything else is either a primary or secondary color, thus giving a full-spectrum effect.
It’s easy to imagine our Creator as a divine, all-embracing mother. I never thought I’d be imagining God as a comma, however. Pourquoi pas? In the end I was grateful for this unique assignment, and for the progressive folks I got to work with in UCC’s graphics department. (Randy, if you’re out there somewhere, you have all my gratitude.)
This assignment also paid well, which is definitely not always the case for illustrators. 2002 was the year my youngest child was born; this job covered half my midwife’s fee. For me this welcome work, this very abundance, was part of our Great Mother’s embrace.