Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Week and Art by Peter Callesen

Today is Holy Thursday.  As a life-long Methodist, soon to be Catholic, I have always been most moved by Maundy Thursday (as we call it in the Methodist church), or Holy Thursday, services, leaving in silence and darkness, letting the reality of the pain of Jesus settle into our minds.  Although the Resurrection of Christ is the holiest of all events, and the force of Christianity, contemplation of the events that led to and include the cruxifiction, shape my understanding of Jesus.  Through empathy, it is at least possible to relate to his human side.

One of my favorite passages of all of the Gospels, if not of the whole Bible, is this from Jesus to God in the Garden of Gethsemane:  My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, as you will.  It is my reminder that Jesus knew what was ahead and did not want to suffer, yet he was obedient to the end.  I love this passage.

I wanted to share with you a little about a paper artist that I am astounded by.  Look at this piece by Peter Callesen.  His work is amazing.  He has an entire series of works where he starts with an A4 piece of white paper.  This one is "On the Other Side" from 2009.

Peter Callesen describes his work in this way:
"The paper cut sculptures explore the probable and magical transformation of the flat sheet of paper into figures that expand into the space surrounding them. The negative and absent 2 dimensional space left by the cut, points out the contrast to the 3 dimensional reality it creates, even though the figures still stick to their origin without the possibility of escaping. In that sense there is also an aspect of something tragic in many of the cuts." 

Some of his words almost describe Christ Himself with phrases like 'magical transformation' [read: mystery of faith] and 'negative space points out the reality it creates' [read: from death, new birth].  I love contemplating these works while thinking of the Passion reading from Palm Sunday.

I am moved that Jesus was obedient.  I am moved that, at the Passover supper with his apostles, he tells them that he is giving away his body and blood for them, and then creates the Eucharist for us to remember Him.  It was not until this year, during a retreat that I fully understood this, coming to me almost as an epiphany.  I had always looked at Jesus' willingness to die as pure obedience to His Holy Father, never quite understanding that this was an offering to us from God the Son, not just from God the Father.  I had understood for some time that Jesus is in effect the passover lamb; he arrived in Jerusalem during the time that the Jewish people went there to select a lamb.  His appearance followed prophecy as detailed in the Old Testament.  His blood is paralleled to the blood of the lamb.  Somehow, though, I had not fully understood his speech with his apostles that night, that this was His offering as a servant to us.

This piece is called "In the Kingdom of the Dead."  Here, Peter Callesen moves away from the white paper for depth of meaning.  The negative space to me indicates the hollowness that we feel on Good Friday. 

I am drawn to the skulls that He stands on; power over death as the foreshadowed theme here.  This framed piece is so powerful to me.

It is my quest to remember that we are Easter people.  For us, the darkness, of course, turns to light.  The hope of Easter, new birth as we have moved through the cold days of Lent into the Triduum, is beautifully depicted in this work from 2008, called "Resurrection."
Peter Callesen is masterful as he makes the two dimensional paper become a three dimensional sculpture.
What most moves me is that this is reflective of how we are moved by the Holy Spirit; our flattened lives transform to fullness through our faith and prayers to God.    Readings for the Easter Vigil this weekend will include Genesis 1:1 Then God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.   This piece speaks that to me.

This Easter Vigil is special for me as I will be confirmed in the Catholic Church and will have my First Communion.  I am honored that you have visited my blog!  Tomorrow, I will be sharing my own work again, but today, I wanted to take a break to show you these works that are multi-tiered inspirations to me.  Please find Peter Callesen's work at his site, .  There, you will find his biography and other works, including his unbelievable "White Window" installation.  Most of his works are not overtly religious, so please do not hesitate visiting his site if the religious nature of the ones I chosen here are contrary to your personal beliefs! 

Thank you for letting me share these wonderful paper creations and my meanderings about my faith.  Although I am a Christian, I respect all paths to God, compassion, and peace.


Diane M. said...

I love his work. It has fascinated me for quite some time.

Audrey Frelx said...

Nadia, his work is amazing!!!

Brens Designs said...

Beautiful work! Loved reading about his projects. What truly wonderful talent shown for an amazing story. God Bless you girl!

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