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Art for Easter 2, "Feed My Sheep"

This week's art is by Rev. Nicolette Peñaranda

Inspired by John 21:1-19 | Theme: "Here's My Heart"

Yarn and paper collage on canvas



Artist's Statement

Feed My Sheep holds a special place in my heart as it is inspired by the text a dear friend of mine used for their ordination. This piece reminds me of their long and complicated journey that led them to the priesthood, much like Peter. As a mixed media artist, I wanted to try something I’ve never done before—perhaps the silliest decision someone with a deadline could make.


This entire piece [1] (with the exception of the three hearts) is made of yarn. For some reason, the feeling of a sheep’s wool kept sticking out to me everytime I read this text. We refer to Jesus as both el Cordero de Dios [2] and the shepherd. So why not lean into sheep imagery? I thought the piece would be more vibrant for Easter in contrast to the pieces I created for Lent. This would really take viewers on a spiritual journey while studying Peter.


This post-resurrection story concludes the wandering for Peter so the subject of this piece sits in front of the Adinkra symbol, Nkyinkyim, [3] for life’s twisted journey. We have seen the ins and outs of his ministry as he accompanies Jesus, which brings us to this dialogue between the two. Peter is asked three times if he loves Jesus, which to all he replies in the affirmative. In this piece, the two of them are portrayed as sheep, Peter being at the right hand of Jesus. The sheep are branded with Agyinduwura [4] at the center of their chests. They carry with them a symbol of loyalty and faithfulness. They are loyal to Jesus, faithful to the promise of salvation, and accepting of their duty to carry the Good News with them to the people of Christ. The face of each sheep is the symbol Kokuromotie [5] to represent cooperation and harmony. Jesus asking Peter to feed his sheep demonstrates the faith that Jesus has in Peter to do this work. This value of cooperation is also present in the Mpatapo-shaped [6] flowers in the field. They are symbols of peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Remember, Peter denied his relationship with Jesus several times before Jesus was executed. Above the sheep sits Kojo Baiden. [7] God has traditionally been represented as the sun in various cultures, which brings us to this omnipresent symbol operating as such in this piece. And to the left we see Akoma, [8] or hearts. While we interpret the heart as love, it is also a symbol for endurance and patience. Peter gets to this point by maintaining goodwill and faith in the message of Jesus. He stumbled through the journey and at times caused more harm than good, but Christ was also patient with him.


Here’s my heart. Here are the things I care about so deeply. And you—someone who makes mistakes, doesn’t follow directions, and sometimes even betrays me—you are so loved and trusted enough to keep this good work going even after I’m gone.


This is a message to all of us. It doesn’t matter how poorly you may think of yourself or how others may view you. To Christ, you are beautifully and fearfully made. And Christ believes in you in spite of it all.

 

—Rev. Nicolette Peñaranda


 

Rev. Nicolette “Nic” (she/her) is a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America serving as the Program Director for African Descent Ministries. Nic is the creator of MONadvocacy, a racial justice resource grounded in play, as well as the “Talks at the Desk” series which celebrates the voices of leaders in the ELCA African descent community: livinglutheran.org/2022/02/ a-love-letter-to-african-descent-communities.


 


 
  1. The original is a 24” x 48” canvas.

  2. Spanish for “Lamb of God.”

  3. View the symbol and learn more about it here: adinkrasymbols.org/symbols/nkyinkyim/

  4. View the symbol and learn more about it here: adinkrasymbols.org/symbols/agyindawuru/

  5. View the symbol and learn more about it here: adinkrasymbols.org/symbols/kokuromotie/

  6. View the symbol and learn more about it here: adinkrasymbols.org/symbols/mpatapo/

  7. Also known as Abode Santann. Learn more here: adinkrasymbols.org/symbols/abode-santann/

  8. View the symbol and learn more about it here: adinkrasymbols.org/symbols/akoma/

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