Saturday, April 18, 2009

Why do I choose animals as the subjects of my painting? Why do I feel so strongly about pairing animals with natural elements? Why does there seem to be a deep sense of connection in me to these things and an understanding of the harmony that exists among them? Even the fated brokeness of nature, brought about by humans from Eden until this very day cannot seem to overcome its beauty. On its own, apart from human interaction, I see the likeness of God. Imagination, balance, and "being." The natural world cannot be anything other than what it is. This is "beingness" if you will. Humans ruined this likeness of God in themselves long ago.


4 the Contemplative Artist said...

Hi Tracey,
I have been having a blast reading your blog and seeing your unbelievable art work! Just beautiful. Love the mysterious mood and depth that your paintings have. It is such an absolute joy to meet others who are passionate about Art and most of all who also belong to Him.
Thank You for your kind encouraging words and please let's stay in touch. Continue to shine for Him and through the gift He has given you!!! Your sis, Anni

Dean Grey said...


Another thought provoking post!

I feel like this sometimes. That I have a stronger connection with animals and nature in general than people.

Why is that?

Maybe it's because animals and nature are still so pure. Maybe it's because you and I were a ram or a tree in another life. Or maybe something else?

Glad to see you revived this particular blog. Keep posting here! I like reading your thoughts on things.


ChristopherKuper said...

The other day I was sitting on the front porch reading and I saw a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest. His dead sibling lay beside him. The mother was up in the tree goin nuts, but was powerless to help either of them.

It wasnt quite a baby anymore though. It could kinda fly when it needed but not really take off. It wandered into traffic a few times and i chased it back into the yard, again and again it went back into the street and for about an hour I consisted in laying down my book going out into the street and chasing it back into the yard.

I eventually had to go back inside, I couldnt do anything. I couldnt save this bird from its own ignorance.

Sure there is somthing peacful about watching animals and nature, but for me often times its heartbreaking. Both in a good way and a bad. Good in the sense that sometimes I will see an animal doing what it does best, quite and undisturbed and it makes me smiles. Other times I realize that nature is without compassion, it makes no compromises, it has no savior, no comfort in the dark. I am glad that I am able to understand both. I am thankful that I am not alone as they are.

Tracey Clarke said...

Hmmm. Great thoughts, C.
We live in a fallen world and it is our fault when we see such a thing happen. Sin and death came into the world because of us. This is why you don't see humans in my work. The affliction comes through humans.
And, actually, nature is replete with unparalleled compassion witnessed in animals through stories without number. When we understand we have a common Creator, we can see a common thread.
I do not hold to the same view as many of my christian friends. Heaven will be filled with the great glory of the entirety of God's creative works. Teeming with all manner of life, including animal life.

ChristopherKuper said...

Well I agree with that. I look forward to being able to swim with sharks and not get eaten. That would be sweet. Or ride a panther or something.

But I wonder if you can say that what we perceive as compassion is carried out to the same degree by animals. What exactly is compassion. Its at first two thoughts, one of yes one of no, then as humans we have a third, what I want to have happen to me. What would God wish for me to do, what is the right and noble thing to do. Do you believe that animals have that third thought? Or is it a random choice due to a misfired synapse? Do animals have some sort of soul? I myself haven't answered that question.

In regards to animals having to suffer simply because we as humans brought it upon this world, I cant truly say thats entirely our fault. Do you not find it interesting that an animal was the one that tempted Eve? Yes I know that it was Satan, but why then did god curse the snake to slither on its belly for rest of time?

Some people believe that animals were vegetarians before the fall, then why do some animals have only sharp carnivorous teeth, and why do they have only instincts to hunt others. Why do cats kill for sport? I think we as a whole are all fallen animals and humans alike, the curse of humans is that we know we are, we live with these third thoughts, this human sadness and depression. The curse for animals is that they dont know any different. I find no more solace in nature than I do in the city. Each is both sad and beautiful to me.

Tracey Clarke said...

No, it is not the same. Humans usually have an alterior motive. "What about me?"..and, well, a conscious. I certainly am not implying that animals are equal with us in thought, but they do have the ability to feel, to suffer and to show concern for something outside themselves, a thing we don't easily gain. We have to learn that.
What I see in them is a purity of motive, they can be no other way than how they are as God created them.
The snake was a vehicle for evil, not a lot has changed in the way we treat animals if you ask me. The entire passage of Gen 3:14-15, in my understanding, is not literal but a fortelling, a metaphor for the power of Christ over Evil.
Yes, the entire world and all it contains is fallen, dying...this is not Eden.
I understand Genesis 1:29 and 30 as vegetarianism in it's purist form. There is much we don't know about the Garden, much mystery.
OUR curse is that we are separated from Life and until we find Him, we remain dead. We suffer the consequences of that in daily existence because we look for life where there isn't any always running toward any shiny new thing that catches our eye.
Maybe it is a blessing that animals "don't know any different."
Thanks, C. Great thoughts and questions to consider...

Ben DeVries said...

Thanks for posting this, Tracey, and for your responses, Christopher. I tend to resonate with much of your observation, Christopher, especially when I observe the suffering which is inherent in nature and between its creatures, whether in the food chain, or in isolated animal injury and death. Having studied the issue some biblically/theologically for a seminary capstone project, as well as a Christian animal advocacy effort I administrate called Not One Sparrow, I do tend to echo Tracey in the biblical narrative of creation, fall and redemption. Genesis 1-2 does seem to paint a completely innocent, violence-less picture of all creation, which was interrupted drastically by the fall, of both Satan and later humanity. Romans 8 speaks of all creation groaning as it awaits our redemption, as humans, and our response to the Gospel is necessary for the someday entrance of the new heaven and new earth, and peaceable kingdom. But again, Christopher, I think you make some great observations about animal nature in the meantime. I've wrestled some this past year or so with the possible implications of a theistic evolutionary framework for creation, still intimately guided by God. This might explain much of the predisposition to violence and suffering which we see today. Please feel free to get in touch anytime, I'd love to continue to dialogue.

ChristopherKuper said...

Thanks for the comments Ben. I also have struggled with the question of is the seven days in the bible really our seven days? Is it just a metaphor for God-sparked evolution. We see so many fantastic pictures of advanced adaptation in nature every day. But never mutation. So which is it? Is the violence in nature because of sin entering the world? Does that mean that every time a lion kills for a meal that it is detestable in the eyes of its maker?

Where these instincts given to the animal or learned? If it was given then surely the Garden of Eden was just a large muzzle on the jaws of already bloodthirsty animals. If it was given, what was the source? Sin? Adaptation? Evolution? Now obviously God cannot detest the shed blood of the animals, he commands it from a number of people in the old test. He even gives Adam and Eve clothes made from animals.

So what is going on in nature? If bloodshed from animal to animal is not sin then that must be because animals cannot sin, which would of course mean that they have no souls. Or is it that their comprehension is that of a childs, limited to a point that there is no condemnation. The more I think about these matter the more I get lost in more and more questions that seem to arise.

Tracey Clarke said...

Though we on the other side of the cross, if you will, He also commanded killing, even the destruction of entire races in the OT, so this makes this issue of bloodshed even more mysterious. It seems that bloodshed itself is not the problem, but by who and under what influence it is committed.