The summer after graduating college, 2011, while searching for what the life of an art major after college looked like, I attended the Christians In Visual Arts, CIVA, conference at Biola University. During each biannual conference, CIVA holds a juried art show of for CIVA members' work. I was chosen to show a version of my piece "Gathering" in Biola's art gallery among other talented CIVA artists.
This piece consists of 576 used tea bags that are wrapped up and arranged by tea type on a large 7'x3' pedestal. At one end of the pedestal there is a crude lamp shining it's bright light at the tea bags and the viewers. In front of the lamp stand three larger tea bags with the bright light shining through their cloth. Working their way along the rest of the pedestal are groupings of tea bags is wandering and meandering it's way towards the light, slowly making their way to catch a bit of the warmth.
Many interpret this work through the lens of Old Testament texts talking of the twelve tribes following God, the light by night and the cloud by day. Others mention the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego with the three large tea bags representing the three youths refusing to bow before the king. Each of these different meanings deepens my original intended meaning and I welcomed the interpretations of all who viewed the piece. My initial thoughts when creating this piece was to talk about the New Testament vision of John in the Revelation. Every nation, tribe, and tongue will be present in heaven at the end of time. As I look at this piece I see The Great Judgement and the praise of the saints dressed in white robes around the throne of God the Father, God the Son, and God the blessed Holy Spirit. Each saintly tea bag is in awe and fear of the glory of God but helplessly moving towards the Trinity and their enticingly pure light. You can even see the fear and trembling in the posture of the tea bags towards the front of the crowd.
This was the fourth showing of "Gathering". The first showing was at Belhaven University Student Show in 2010. It showed three times in 2011, once at the Mississippi Collegiate Art Competition winning first place in the sculpture category, then at my Senior Show and finally at the CIVA conference. Each time the piece was received with great praise by both secular and Christians circles attesting to the deep Truths that all people are able to see when viewing Art.