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Artist, Teacher, Blogger concerned with American culture, its effect on faith and how Christianity effects American culture, specifically, what the word "christian" means to Americans today.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Just To Be...




GIOVANNI ANSELMO
Entrare nell' opera (Entering the Work) 1971
Inkjet print on canvas 93-1/4 x 73-1/4in
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery

The first time I saw Giovanni Anselmo’s , “Entering The Work”, it was on the wall of MOCA in downtown Los Angeles.  This massive inkjet print on canvas ( you literally feel like you can walk into it) of a male figure running through a field… larger than life , filled me with excitement. It brought me back to a time and place in my childhood where I'd seen an open field of grass and had the intense urge to run, but was not allowed. The man in Giovanni's work was doing what I wanted to do, and I felt his exhilaration. However after looking at some of Mr. Anselmo's other works, I decided to revisit "Entering The Work", and got quite a different understanding.

As a whole, I find Mr. Anselmo's work to be an exploration of the frailness and weightiness of life... a head of lettuce juxtaposed with a block of granite. A block of granite perilously suspended above Mr. Anselmo's head. The repeated photos taken from a boat, trying to catch the setting sun to illustrate the fleeting nature of time... all of these images, as well as the man running in the field in “Entering The Work" illustrate the angst that I believe everyone feels at some point in their lives.

It struck me as odd that a single image could be so inviting and exciting and yet so tentative. The angle of his legs… the position of his arms… is the man running joyfully or fearfully, as other Anselmo works would suggest?      To me, the man running illustrates how we all run through our lives… at times joyful… at times fearful… at times tentative… and how unnecessary that fear is when you have faith. 

We all have the need to control our lives, some of us more than others.  We even have terms for it… “Control Freaks”, “Type A Personalities”… we are people who have a need to control every aspect of our lives… to be masters of our own universe (and sometimes other’s universe), but the truth is, none of can achieve this.

There is One that is in control, that has absolute control of the universe and that One loves us and if we believe that, we have no need for fear. “For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” [2Timothy 1:7]. 

Admittedly, coming to accept the truth that we are not in complete control (and it’s not the end of the world) can be a hard pill to swallow.  It doesn’t mean that we have no control or input, we certainly do.  Our actions, our decisions and our attitudes are very important, but they don’t always determine the final outcome. There are always contingencies… the unforeseen… and these things, I have found best to give to God, because He is well able to handle them.  I cast all my care… everything that would normally worry me and I have no control over… on Him, because I know He cares for me. [1 Peter 5:7]

Giving “it” (whatever “it” happens to be… that thing you can’t control) to God is not giving up.  You have to give it to Him in confidence, in faith, knowing that He is touched by the feelings of our infirmity [Hebrews 4:15] and that His thoughts towards us are “…good and not evil. To give us a future and a hope.” [Jeremiah 29:11].  This allows you to appreciate what you have… to appreciate the time you’ve been given because the moment that is past is past and the moment that will come will be predicated on the moment that is right now.  I thank God that we can have an assurance and a calm and a peace… a peace that surpasses all understanding [Phil. 4:7] that will allow us to be… To Be… just to Be… in that moment.  Just to Be… who God created us to be.  Just to enjoy “Being”.  Then we have truly entered the work.