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Ahoy Sleeper

Oil on Braced Baltic Birch 35” x 2” 2014 (Age 18)

 

I began thinking about painting an aquanaut, or deep-sea diver, when we were in Florida and some friends suggested we meet at Tarpon Springs, an old Greek settlement known for its sponge industry. On a boat tour I became fixated on an antique diving suit donned for a demonstration of how they collected sponges. I was drawn to the brass surface texture of the helmet, which was even more interesting with the emergence from water. Once home, I did further research on lighting, wet rubberized fabric and brass. I had my dad take photos of me, first in my studio and later emerging from Lake Ontario wearing a round brass planter on my head! The choice of using a circular panel was intentional. In viewing a rectangular piece, there is a left-to-right beginning-to-end, whereas a circle is cornerless, resulting in a type of timelessness and unity. This set the stage for a painting that would come to carry peculiar metaphysical weight. Over the years I have been intrigued by Ephesians 5:14, which states “Awake, O Sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (ESV). When reading it, I would always have a strange picture in my mind of a diver rising upon a seaweed shore with a bird flying above. Suddenly, this verse in Ephesians and the visual idea for this painting converged. As I conceptually developed this piece, I began to see the metamorphosis of the aquanaut emerging from the depths of the ocean into an unknown light, with an illuminated Common House Martin ascending into the sky. By excluding the face and skin colour, the figure becomes a metaphoric archetype for spiritual transformation, arising from deadness of soul into new life in Christ, which is available to everyone.