Ojai Studio Artists annual exhibition at Ojai Valley Museum. April 22nd until June 18th, 2017.
I was baffled with the theme this year. And asked God, “What should I do?” The word and image “loaf” came immediately to me. I asked “Really, loaf?” And was replied “yes, loaf”. I was baffled again because my work has so much movement and energy and a loaf seemed so stagnant and still. So I looked up “loaf” in Wikipedia and it spoke about being lazy, a loafer, and I thought, yes, being a couch potato could be idealistic, especially for a workaholic. As I continued reading, it spoke about Christ and the 5 loaves and 2 fish, the bread of life and then it all started to make sense to me.
Prior to this epiphany, I asked 2 different people at 2 different events if they knew of a spiritual center in Ojai with teachings of Christ and really good Christian Rock music. Both people stated “Ojai Presbyterian Church on Foothill, their 9:15 Sunday service”.
Saturday I sculpted 4 clay loaves of bread and had them drying on my kitchen counter. It was mid night and I laid in bed contemplating what I should title the piece…2 fish?, Behold? 5 loaves, Rise..and visualized the installation in the museum.
Sunday morning I awoke to the sound of buckets of rain. I had been looking forward all week to going to my first day at OPC but with the rain, staying in bed seemed like a better option. I realized this was a test and happily got out of bed and faced the rain and drove carefully to OPC.
Not knowing what to expect, the music was great and we sat down and on the screen above the alter that hosted a real round loaf of bread, projected the scripture from the book of John. It was the verse about the 5 loaves and 2 fish. I didn’t even know where the verse was in the bible and what is the chances of my first moment at OPC, with my loaves drying on my kitchen counter and I spent the night before laying in bed thinking about the verse to appear and be preached this very morning. I felt elated, for this validated my message and I thanked Christ and God.
After the service, the lady sitting behind me looked familiar and it turns out she is on the Board at the museum and another lady I met at the reception is also on the Board. A few weeks later, I took the day off to stain the loaves. I put black pigment on the opening of the cross, it was very moving to do so. It was Ash Wednesday, and my first time attending an Ash Wednesday ceremony. After the ceremony, I sat in my car and looked at my cross ash marking on my forehead and realized my similar cross staining on the loaves on the same day.
Then there was lent. I put the bone dry loaves in the kiln to fire, but steam poured out of the kiln for several days, preventing the firing. The kiln itself was purging from the rain. The museum drop off date was Good Friday and installation for the next few days was during Easter.
“Rise” is Idealism Visualized. The light that fills our darkness, Christ the bread of life satisfies us. When placing the light in the sculpture, I tested to see how bright it was and shut the lights off in the room. To my unexpected surprise, a magnificent cross projects light onto the ceiling, thus being a beautiful night light with a spiritual metaphor.