Can These Bones Live?

Can These Bones Live?

Oil on Braced Baltic Birch 18” x 2”


The Old Testament, known as the Tanakh to Jewish people, relays an unusual episode of the prophet Ezekiels vision, called "The Valley of Dry Bones [i].” I approached my painting as a modern interpretation, seeing the Monarch Butterfly as symbolic of breathing new life into lifeless human bones. This painting is a precursor to the larger work, Rise Up (p. 80), which brings clarity to this initial macabre piece and further develops the theme of resurrection.


The Science Department at my old high school was gracious in letting me borrow their expensive full skeleton model for a weekend. I laid out "Charlie" as we called him, on our dining room table and photographed him with my studio lighting. I had previously sketched an imaginary scene of a single butterfly flitting through a cavernous rib cage, emanating light and casting radial shadows. The reference photos helped greatly for anatomical accuracy, and to see where the light and shadows would fall on the three dimensional form.


[i] Ezekiel 37:1-14