Symbols Are Universal

I do more research and thought – letting them gel over time – more than preparatory sketches commonly seen in an artists working style. In the case of this painting called “Disciples Flee” I was, at the time, researching symbols in Christian art. I was also preparing for “Every Time I Feel The Spirit” – a solo exhibit at the Madison-Morgan African-American Museum in Madison, GA – and was searching the Bible for mentions of Africa and Africans.

All this came together wonderfully, no mystery there as I have found with my spiritual works. I had been thinking about how scary it would have been right after the public execution of their teacher, master, friend. These men were in shock, dealing with grief, guilt for abandonment, and had no clue what to do. I tried to capture, quickly, a moment of panic for these three men, looking over their shoulders, avoiding eyes, darting between buildings in a courtyard. I roughed in the main “bulk” of the figures but with no reference yet of “the environment/background” I left it for several months and would occasionally put it back on my easel and work on the main figures. The initial roughed in outlines were thick and bold and I decided I liked it and started coloring in around the initial lines. Still no background, just a few lines to show the horizon line and indication of a building.

Then, I found a website that had these wonderful West African – Adinkra Symbols, see below.

Wow, these four symbols and there meanings represent what these three men really needed at that time; (GYE NYAME) God is Supreme and in charge fully at all times, (NSOROMMA) they are a child of Heaven – guardianship, (NYAME BIRIBI WO SORO) God is in heaven giving us hope and lastly (NKONSONKONSON) that they are united as the human chain and in Christ.

Once seeing these, reading about these symbols and there meanings, I dropped the idea entirely on a realistic background and started painting in the symbols, treated the environment in a more graphic style, applied more of that same style to the three men – and that is how this painting came to being!

I sincerely hope that you enjoy a little glimpse into the internal, conceptual thought processes and then the steps, transformation methods of the physical work of art.

Chris Cook

 

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