Images and text by Jennifer Lynn Haas
Flourish magazine, Summer 2010
Tree of Life (2008)
Acrylic wash, water-soluble wax pastels, charcoal, conte on paper
“Tree of Life” came to me rather quickly after much internal reflection upon my need for forgiveness and repentance. My emotions and thoughts led me to create a tree with a thick dark outline surrounded by an array of bold color. Although the tree stands strong, there is much movement in line and form, which makes one notice a supernatural presence; this is not just a tree. God has given us trees and they are wonderful gifts that inspire and speak to us of God and his goodness. As a creative human being, I often use images from creation—like trees—as metaphors or symbols for deep feelings and thoughts.
In particular, this piece depicts a tree many gnarled and twisted branches. These branches hang heavy on the short and sturdy trunk. Yet notice how the trees’ thin shoots always reach straight up to the sky in hopeful expectation. That is like you and me. The tree speaks of both our tendency to settle for twisted lies and also how in desperation we cry out to the Lord of heaven to pour out grace and truth on us. As we grow in grace and truth, we reach out to those around us, just as this “Tree of Life” reaches in many directions. This tree has a short sturdy base and a wide reach, so in this way it takes off like a vine, spreading out with good news.
Tulips in a Glass Pitcher (2009)
Charcoal on paper
This piece is part of a body of work that I entitled “Life is Still Beautiful.” The premise of the exhibit was to invite the viewer to slow down and appreciate certain objects, often flawed or aged, found in everyday life. Many of the everyday objects are to be found in creation: feathers, flowers both dried and cut, etc.
As I slowed down to “take in” the natural objects, I discovered a subtle harmony and a simple beauty in the form and function of each item. Observing and rendering this simple beauty led me to wonder what kind of beauty could be found in other everyday creational matter. I was ushered into appreciative contemplation through things I never would have even noticed before.
This piece invites the viewer to pause and reflect upon the meaning and simple magnificence of fresh cut tulips. For although these tulips now adorn a family kitchen table and are only a distant memory of the garden from which they came, in their displacement they hold value—for they call those who dwell in this home (and the viewer) to glory in creation and to celebrate it. I marvel at our human desire to adorn our homes with the natural evidence of springtime and its promise of new life. We long for this after the long winter months. Cut spring tulips can be a simple way for us to remember God’s provision and renewing power.
Harvest Glory (2008)
Acrylic, India ink, carbothello chalk pastels on paper
The piece delights in, and brings honor to, the harvest through image and color. It playfully contrasts the riches of the earth’s harvest with man’s urbanization. This is depicted through the organic image of wheat versus the geometric shapes of industry.
As a people we are called to godly stewardship of creation in all its bounty. When we neglect creation, trod on it, and devalue its diversity for the sake of our own selfish interest and financial gain we bring dishonor to its Maker and Sustainer. In the book of Genesis, God calls his people to tend his creation in all its fullness, to rule over it with discerning wisdom through which all will benefit: humans, animals, plants, earth, water and all materials alike. This piece prompts one to explore and ask questions like: How can we as Christians bring about creational renewal to devastated lands, animals, and peoples? In what ways have we acted primarily for our own interests and overlooked the interests of creation? How can we as Christians begin to reap a harvest through caring for and cultivating creation in new and creative ways?
Playfully, “Harvest Glory” acts as a launching point for such an inquiry, softly challenging us to answer such questions in creative ways. Overall, this piece encourages its viewers to begin to ponder the relationship between humans and their natural environment. We need to be dissatisfied with complacency and with any narrow urbanized exercise of our God-given abilities to develop and create.
Acrylic paint and water-soluble wax pastels on canvas
“Tide” depicts the moon passing over a vast body of water. The dramatic sky evokes wonder and glory. The piece leads one to ponder over creation, and celebrate it. In creating this piece, my intention was for the viewer to marvel at the beauty and power that are displayed as creation fulfills its purposes, even in spite of many things they’ve heard about its overall health.
Collectively, we have been informed about a travesty; many tell us that today we are faced with the threat of environmental destruction. This can leave one struggling with feelings of despair, fear, and helplessness in our role as creational caretakers.
This piece represents a different way to respond. Looking at the tide that follows the moon in rhythm each day, I am reminded of the constancy of its cycle in spite of the harm done to its waters. So too we who have been given the task of tending creation can fulfill our purpose in hope, knowing that ultimately the earth depends on its Maker for sustenance in spite of our failure in our task. “Tide” is a piece of hope for the environment and a call for a nurturing humanity.
Bold Frailty (2009)
Charcoal on paper
In this piece I explore the theme of natural beauty in fragility. “Bold Frailty” displays objects, feathers and dried flowers apart from their original life-sources. The feathers, soft and fragile, have fallen from a bird’s wing; no longer used for flight, they now exhibit a graceful beauty all their own. The flowers, dried and cut, have been removed from the earth. They no longer reach for the sun, yet they retain much of their allure. Objects like these are often passed by quickly and overlooked, and their beauty lies undiscovered.
As an artist, I seek to bring to light the exquisite bounty of creation in both its vitality and decay. After all, life is full of both and we should be attentive to its dialectic between life and death. Even that which is in decay can bring forth life and beauty, which surprises me and makes me wonder about how this piece may act as a resurrection metaphor.
Within creation we find the theme of life after death. It continually is rejuvenated by means of God’s provisional sunlight, nutrient-rich earth, and life-giving water. Trees shed their leaves in autumn and burst into bloom in spring. Plant life sprouts out of last season’s decayed foliage. It is a celebration of new life amidst that which has died.
I am an emerging artist seeking to raise questions and reflections about life in God’s world. My art serves as a medium for wonder, inquiry, delight and expression. Common themes in my art include people and the natural world. Through strong line, an interesting use of color, and high contrast, I seek to bring to light the meaning and underlying issues in my subject matter. Approaching the creation of each piece, I surrender my hands, heart, and mind to the living Christ, seeking to glorify the Creator in all that I make.
Jennifer Lynn Haas studied fine art at Redeemer University College and graduated with distinction in May 2008. While at Redeemer she was mentored under significant artists who have exhibited worldwide, and received The Department of Art Scholarship funded by the Women’s Art Association of Hamilton. She has completed commissioned work for private patrons and has exhibited her art locally. To see more of her artwork visit www.jenniferlynnhaas.blogspot.com.