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Art for Maundy Thursday, "Golden Hour"

This week's art is by Rev. Nicolette Peñaranda

Inspired by John 13:1-20 | Theme: "Streams of Mercy"

Acrylic, ink, paper collage, yarn, metallic tape, and mixed media on canvas



Artist's Statement

The story of Peter brings us to the last supper. The disciples are tucked away in the upper room. Within the overall composition of this piece, we see the West African symbol, [1] Aban, which means fortress and demonstrates power and authority. Aban [2] is the central image of Golden Hour and it is duplicated around the perimeter of the piece like a mighty fortress. The gold-plated vessel at the top represents the water Jesus uses to wash the disciples’ feet. Around it are miniature Mpuannum, [3] the five tufts of hair. In Ghanaian culture, it is said that a priestess wore this hairstyle giving the symbol a meaning of deep loyalty and priestly office. The water drips directly down onto swollen feet, feet that bear no name. The section to the left of the vessel holds a tearful Peter. He refuses Jesus’ hospitality and then backtracks when he learns the value of merciful water. Around him contains Dwannini Mmen, [4] the horns of rams, and Nyansapo, [5] the wisdom knot. Both sit subtly in the background. If only Peter remembered that pride is a vice and through curiosity we are exposed to the interconnectedness of wisdom and knowledge.


Across from the image of Peter we see the Eucharist. When orienting this piece in a diamond formation, the cup looks overflowing. But when the canvas is sitting as a square, the wine is tipping out of the chalice, dripping in unison with the vessel onto the Aban. The Eucharist is also one of the ways we receive Christ’s mercy. Body and blood broken for us. Water is very versatile. The vessel of water is providing mercy. The swollen feet are receiving mercy. Peter is asking for mercy. The chalice has shed mercy.


There is a particular time of day we refer to as the “golden hour.” This is when photographers love to take photos as the sun sits at a particular point, either after sunrise or before sunset, when daylight is redder and softer than when the sun is higher in the sky. A serious photographer does anything to capture that moment. When I reflect on the entire Passion story, this might just be the golden hour for the disciples. Jesus and his crew are tucked away, having their Passover meal. They are cleansing themselves and carrying on not realizing this will be the last moment of peace they will have. Sharing a meal with the people you love is one of the most glorious moments anyone could have—before what will end as a night of torture and betrayal. While Peter is tearful in this image, the overall vibe of Golden Hour is soft, rich. It feels like it is captured in marble as if nothing can destroy it.

 

—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. Adinkra symbols originated from the Gyaman people of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. Learn more about their meanings and significance here: adinkrasymbols.org. View the Adinkrahene symbol here: adinkrasymbols.org/symbols/adinkrahene/

  2. View the symbol and learn more about it here: adinkrasymbols.org/symbols/aban/

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

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

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

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