This piece is titled “Whole Devotion”, it is inspired by the season of Lent and Easter. Lent brings us reminders that we are made from dust and–as mortal creatures–we will return to dust. This reminder makes the relief of Easter all the more precious. Because God became mortal, he became capable of death, and his death releases us from the damage of our death. These ideas are reflected in the painting through the imagery of mortality and the divine.
The skeleton torso is not only an image of mortal death, she’s not even whole. Without her arms and legs, she lacks any semblance of agency. However her gaze tilts upwards, looking desperately, with whole devotion, to the gold circle edged in red which only peeks into the top edge of the canvas. Even if she can’t reach it, she’s looking at it. And that seems to be enough. She is crowned with a halo of her own, honored with divinity even while she is only made of bones. Her lower part is silhouetted by a black void, which represents the total loss that life and death on this earth is apart from God. As we are now, we are still alive, but with our feet always in the grave, still waiting to be completely united with our promised Deity, still kept away by our sin.
This concept of being both dead and alive, saved and still suffering, is emphasized by the pomegranate tucked into her ribcage. It serves as a reference to the myth of Persephone, who was kidnapped by Hades, the god of the dead. Even though she was rescued, she had made the mistake of eating six pomegranate seeds while below, which is the food of the dead. Hades makes a claim to her because of this violation, and Persephone is cursed to live six months of the year in the underworld and six months back in the land of the living.
Unlike Persephone, our situation has already been set right. Our violation already forgiven. We still have to wait for the wholeness of God’s salvation, but we wait in absolute hope.