Jared Miller and Dr. Dennis Wright, Church History
This law [the law of consecration], the consummation of the laws of obedience and sacrifice, is the threshold of the celestial kingdom, the last and hardest requirement made of men in this life.
As a requirement for salvation, Christ’s life and teachings illuminate the key principles in the law of consecration, providing the roadmap requisite in obedience to the spirit and letter of consecration. While nothing can supplant these teachings, art throughout time has served as a supplementary tool allowing the viewer to take a new pictorial perspective to these concepts. This project consists of five paintings and a number of studies dealing with the law of consecration and the separate aspects of the law. Brigham Young pointed out three principles he saw essential in truly consecrating ones life to God. The first principle is the recognition that all things come from God—that he is the source of all creation. The second is the concept that all who live the law are given certain stewardships over which they have responsibility. The final aspect is an understanding that the base of the law of consecration is charity, and that its foundation is derived from an inner love of God and one’s brothers.
Each of these principles is then elucidated by one or two paintings. The first two paintings dealing with the recognition that all things come from God uses a cup and water in symbolic analogy. Water for generations has been an archetype of life and the source of life. Christ in his teachings to the woman at the well, prophets both ancient and modern, and the sacrament all serve as reminders to this analogy.
The first painting then, is based on this imagery, while expressing the connection between both spiritual and physical creation. A cup is painted on the bottom of the canvas with a certain realism that gives it an existence in the natural world. The ground around it is slightly dirty with faintly varying color and texture. Its palpability is created as the viewer looks down into the cup. This serves as an analogy for the physical source of all things, while above on a field of pure pigment floats another cup, more of a symbol or idea of what “cup” is than the actuality of it. This symbolizes the spiritual creation which precedes its physical form. The second painting moves towards the creation of man and God’s connection with man. Above the painting resides the archetypal symbol of man and God—a square inscribed in a circle. Beneath this symbol are three cups symbolizing the trinity and the stages of creation, from immaterial to material.
The third painting (not presently completed) focuses on the principle of stewardship and talents. Reverting from the typical view that talents consist of musical, artistic, or athletic ability, the painting depicts the principle of talents in the form of a mother holding a child. While the image of a mother and child is laden with all the baggage that accompanies two thousand years of painting this icon (specifically found in the image of Mary and Christ), this image creates a new perspective to the concept of talents and stewardship. In so doing the viewer is able to see how raising a child is synonymous with the principle of stewardship and talents. The figures are painted on a green field of color symbolic of life, hope, and rebirth.
The final two paintings depict charity the last of the three principles of the law of consecration. This concept became the most difficult to express. Without using trite images or symbols, the pieces sought first to show devotion to God and second love for all others. The first painting is of a bust sculpted by Rodin entitled Meditation turned towards a cup. Lost in thought this sculpture symbolizes all men. The cup is a symbol of God. A large gap separates the two. This gap is then used to symbolize the choice it has to make, whether to turn to God through love and service or to remain separate and aloof from the “living water.” The second painting uses this same analogy but instead of looking towards God, the sculpture is turned towards the viewer, those who are his brother. The same gap exists and once again the choice is there whether to show charity or decline.
In completing this project, certain problems arose. The images used in communication were transformed from blunt, overt illustrations to a more symbolic imagery. This change created certain problems inherent in the use of symbols. No longer is the meaning understood at merely a glance, but it is only understood through a careful study of the works and pondering their meaning. The main difficulty was discussing the concepts and principles inherent in the painting without being trite or giving a mere cliché to answer the thematic problem.