by Christine Lemaire 

This piece is called “Hope in a Darkened World.” I made it while I was confined to my fifteen square meter room in Pisa, Italy during the lockdown. The longer the lockdown in Italy lasted and the more COVID-19 measures were taken, the more I felt anxiety and fear was growing globally. As a result, there was also a growing spirit of mistrust and doubt.

In the piece, I used pages from the Italian version of the book Peace with God by Billy Graham to build a city skyline. I have noticed with earlier pieces that people are always curious what the pages of text say. Because of this, I was very intentional about choosing a Christian book. The skyline is symbolic of how God is present in our world and available for each one of us. I darkened the buildings with acrylic paint, gesso, and pastel to represent those who do not want to hear the words of God or are blinded by sin and fear. Even though God is there, we often do not recognize Him anymore. The title speaks of a darkened world because I feel it has become darker than it was before.

In the midst of this, I wanted to bring hope, symbolically represented by a butterfly that really stands out. I have recently been experimenting with embroidery on canvas, so I used that to give the butterfly more structure and body. Similar to a butterfly, the hope we are called to bring into this world is light and fresh, but it has more depth than it appears. The border of the piece consists of strips of cardboard to give more depth and create the illusion of a windowsill. I placed a flower in a pot on the windowsill because hope, like a flower, needs to be nourished to survive. These elements are visually connected because they are both embroidered.

I hope this piece can speak to people in different situations. Everyone has experienced times of darkness and hopelessness. The racial upheaval we are living in now is one of them, but there are also more private situations of despair. A butterfly is a symbol of hope that is easily recognizable, so my desire is that it will speak to many people. Art has a way of speaking directly to people's hearts, evoking an emotional response before an intellectual one. This opens up ways to have a conversation on a deeper level about the universal longings of the human heart. Jesus Christ is the answer to these longings, and we, as ambassadors of Christ, have the privilege of touching the hearts of people by sharing the heart of our Father.

My visual art is a way to communicate a certain message, usually hopeful or expressing something I have experienced or come to understand. I am not the kind of artist that tries to get all the details right for hours and hours; the message and symbolism are more important to me. The various elements of my pieces are all there for a specific reason.

So, my question to you is: Will you be a person that feeds hope into a darkened world?

ChristineLemaireHeadshot200Christine Lemaire (40) is a Dutch native who has been living in Italy for a year and working with OM in communications. Her passions are singing, teaching, and expressing herself creatively in many ways. Her personal vision is to bring brightness where there is darkness.