This week’s Art and Theology piece comes through a sketch from our regularly-contributing artist, Rosanna Cartwright. She’s submitted a pencil drawing of someone having experienced one of Jesus’ miracles, transferring from blind to sighted.
Several things about this drawing stand out. I’m not a huge fan of leaning on the “sighted is way better than blind” narrative. People who can’t see are also bearers of God’s Spirit. Plenty of people who can see with their eyes don’t see clearly with their hearts. I know there’s a temptation to define “normal and right” as “just like most of us are”. I don’t think Jesus’ miracles were meant to transform people on the edges of our culture into “normal” folks. Our normality is neither the center nor the goal of the universe.
Still, I like this depiction because of the sense of wonder in the expression of the subject. We can take or leave his eyes being opened to perceive light waves. His eyes flying open in wonder speaks volumes. “I can see” encompasses so much more than physical sight. He, himself, is open to the world and all its possibilities! His expression leaps off the page.
The phrase, “Lord, I believe” isn’t just a matter of internal conviction in this drawing. The word “BLIND” at the top is bound up in chains, straight-line pencil marks. It’s limited, tied down, a weighty, self-contained thing. By contrast, “I believe” is duplicated, replicated, echoing across the page, seemingly in multiple dimensions. The words themselves reach out, just like the man does. This new thing is rolling through all creation, encompassing the subject and everyone who views him.
I also love that this drawing looks like a sketch, almost an unfinished prelude. That’s exactly what this miracle moment is. It doesn’t point to itself. It’s the beginning of a lifetime of questions and interactions. We know that sketches like this usually get filled in with more concrete lines, colors, perhaps backgrounds. We don’t know what that will look like yet, and that’s wholly appropriate! Viewing it, we’re invited to ask not just what this moment is, but what it will become, one of the key questions of faith.
Thanks to Rosanna for letting us share in this work! You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosanna.cartwright.3. Come back again next week to experience more of the connection between faith and art!