“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” (Galatians 5: 13-15)
Buddhist mandalas symbolize the universe, and the unity of everything that is contained in it. The meditative practice of creating and studying mandalas is a beautifully restorative exercise. Meditation is an important way that I connect to God and the body given to me, and I wanted to make these paintings in a deliberate act of mindful prayer.
The very different thread that runs through these quilt-like pieces is my Pennsylvania Dutch ancestry. I have been fascinated with their traditional art of barn quilts and hex signs with their bright colours and geometric symmetry. I like to think of them as a sort of prayer or meditation as well. Each design is carefully thought out with great meaning applied to the symbols. A five-pointed star to protect a barn from a lightning strike. Circles to symbolize divinity and the circle of life. Unicorns for all God’s children living in harmony, etc.
My experiences as a Christian, and within the church, have shaped the direction of this work. I have not been a stranger to the brokenness of the Church and the bitterness in Christians towards each other (myself included). We are afraid of the freedom we are given and we misuse it, hurting others along the way. Through Reoriented, I want to connect the meditative force of both mandalas and hex signs and bring them into a Christian context showing how they all connect. I also wanted to highlight the continuing power of traditional symbolism.
The first and last piece were very methodically done, following a strict pattern and pre-chosen colours to represent the order and design in the universe. When painting the central work, I allowed myself to be freer, using sandpaper to draw back the layers and paint again on top. This process of erasing reminded me of the brokenness of the world, and named the bitterness in my own heart. These three pieces for me have become a prayer, meditation, and act of worship.
About Sarah Murphy
Sarah Murphy is an Ontario artist born in 1998. She has been a passionate painter her whole life, and will be graduating from Redeemer University with a BA in visual arts and psychology. Her work consists mainly of oil and acrylic paintings, as well as found object pieces. Sarah enjoys themes of mindfulness, patterns, and cultural heritage.