1. Elegy for Perpetua & Felicitas
oil on wood with 23kt. gold leaf; 80″ x 48″
The life and witness of the high-born Roman citizen of Carthage, Vibia Perpetua (b.AD182; d. 203) and her maidservant Felicitas inspires me. Perpetua was a highly educated, married woman with a nursing infant and Felicitas was a slave woman who was pregnant at the time of their arrest. These two Christian women bravely and publicly professed faith in Christ despite the religion being illegal under Roman law. They were condemned and imprisoned, and after failed attempts by family to persuade them to recant their faith, they were publicly executed as part of the military games in Carthage in AD203 as part of the birthday celebration of the Emperor Septimus Severus. We know of the bravery and deep faith of these women from contemporary accounts—including a memoir by Perpetua’s own handwritten during her imprisonment—a document believed by scholars to be authentically Perpetua’s writing. The fellowship of these two women in death, despite class difference, became a marvelous example of how Christianity levels class distinctions. I’ve tried to evoke the gravity and grace that suffused their martyrdoms—and their story can serve, like other sources of the Building in Ruins series, as a reminder that though our lives are outwardly being destroyed, we are being built up, into Christ, as a temple made with living stones.
oil on canvas with attached wood panel and 23kt. gold leaf; 54″ x 36″
In this painting I’ve attempted to get at a paradoxical aspect of the spiritual life: it is both a path of contemplative peace and a deep inner and outer struggle. It is in this seeming contradiction that our faith is revealed. We meditate day and night on God’s grace and free-gift of love, even while we struggle to follow, to surrender, and to be true students of Christ and his Way.