Quality is the first norm for art, but its final norm is love and truth, the enriching of human life, the deepening of our vision.

Easter: Grid Buster

Grid Buster by Lynn Aldrich

Resurrection Power

by Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker

The installation Grid Buster was exhibited in 1989 in the gallery of Biola University in Southern California. On the wall on the right hangs a small reproduction of the right wing of the famous ‘Grünewald’ Isenheim Altarpiece depicting the resurrection. The reproduction is illuminated by a little picture light, which is plugged into a succession of surge protectors. In the middle we see a carpet with a plaid pattern. The resurrected Jesus of the altar seems to have erupted from the carpet onto the wall, leaving behind the imprint of Jesus in wild waves of rubber padding on the floor covering. On the left stand two audio players playing Gregorian chant interrupted every few minutes by the roar of a vacuum cleaner. When one leaves the room, one is handed a black and white detail of the artwork with a line from Hebrews 10:1: ‘Only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things.’
American artist Lynn Aldrich focuses in her art on the representation of ideas, especially about contemporary life and culture, reality, humanity and the triune God. In her conceptual approach to art she makes use of objects and materials from everyday life that become metaphors for the ideas she wants to express. She says: ‘What I am thinking about is complex or paradoxical, but when it comes to putting this into form through images or materials, I am naturally attracted to simplicity… I am interested in the accumulation, repetition, and presentation of ordinary objects, materials and images.’ She has made use of slices of bread, garden hoses, sponges and dishwashing brushes to speak about the transitoriness of life, sin, baptism, abundance and new life. Her work, moreover, is not deprived of humour, which you may also sense in the work discussed here. But, as she herself frankly admits, her work only gives away its secret if you take time to reflect on it, ‘you can’t get a quick read.’
In our exploration of the meaning of Grid Buster let us first focus on the ‘Grünewald’ reproduction. We see a luminous Christ rising from the grave, the cloth he was wrapped in falling down to the ground behind and underneath him. As in the orant figures of early Christian art he raises his hands in a gesture of prayer and reverence, while also showing his wounds in victory. Behind the glorified body of Christ we see a large circle of light as a nimbus expelling the black night. The soldiers cannot bear the light of the resurrection explosion: thunderstruck they have thrown themselves on the ground.
Various elements of the Isenheim Resurrection recur in the installation. First of all, of course, Jesus is in the same pose on the wall. But also the enormous power that accompanied the resurrection in the older work, is paralleled in the new work by the great number of surge protectors necessary to absorb the dangerous blast of electricity flowing from the risen Jesus. The circle of light behind Jesus in the altarpiece we find in the Aldrich behind Jesus on the wall with the light falling from there across the carpet. Jesus has, moreover, taken the pattern of the carpet into his resurrected appearance, not shedding the cloth of death here but instead taking it up into himself as the fabric of our dead lives.
With the commonplace pattern of the carpet the installation makes the connection with contemporary prefabricated habits of life. It also links to our times with the brute sound of the vacuum cleaner that keeps on disturbing the elevated tones of the Gregorian chant. Aldrich comments on this: 'From a bad taste decorator den carpet in a modernist grid erupts this very baroque almost Dionysian image of Jesus. I like the feeling that a powerful, supernatural event could happen in anybody’s rec room… Christ rising from the grave of suburban melancholia.’
It is significant that the glorified Jesus is covered with the pattern of the plaid, that seems to represent earthly reality. By becoming human like us, in his death he took upon himself the sick and sinful patterns of human life. In contrast with this the figure in the rosy spot on the carpet is stripped of its squared design: the human being freed of its old man, born again in flesh-coloured nudity, free to give form to its existence in its own unique grid busting ways. The resurrection of Christ delivers humanity with explosive resurrection power from the straitjacket of evil. Christ raised from the dead means new life for us, even now! Change and growth are possible, even though this earthly life will never be perfect and for the time being will remain ‘only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things.’
Grid Buster, 1989. Carpet, carpet padding, surge protectors, stereo arrangement of Gregorian Chant and vacuum cleaner noise, 10 x 17 feet. Courtesy of Sandroni Rey Gallery, Venice, CA.
ArtWay Visual Meditation Easter, 2010

For more materials for Easter, click here


- June 2024: Year B, Proper 18 (Revised Common Lectionary)
- April 2024: EASTER - Lynn Aldrich: Grid Buster
- January 2024: James Janknegt: The Rich Man and Lazarus
- December 2023: Rembrandt van Rijn: The Annunciation
- October 2023: Sunday Christ the King
- April 2023: Year A, Proper 17
- February 2023: Lent: James Janknegt: The Rich Man and Lazarus
- November 2022: Christmas - Brian Kershisnik: Nativity
- October 2022: Reformation Day: Luther and Durer
- June 2022: Michaelmas, September 29
- March 2022: Lent
- January 2022: The Speck and the Log
- November 2021: Advent - Care for the Earth
- September 2021: Year B, Proper 25
- May 2021: Year B, Proper 18 (Revised Common Lectionary)
- April 2021: Tim Rollins and K.O.S.: Seven Last Words of Christ
- February 2021: Year B, Lent 6: The Ointment of Nard by Arcabas
- January 2021: Year B, Epiphany 8
- December 2020: Advent: Butterfly
- August 2020: Year A, 21st Sunday after Pentecost: Psalm 1
- June 2020: A Year, 10th Sunday of the Summer
- May 2020: Pentecost: Donna Shasteen
- April 2020: The Scene in the Kitchen; Christ at Emmaus
- March 2020: The Seven Last Words of Christ
- January 2020: Year A, Epiphany 3
- November 2019: Edward Hicks: The Peaceable Kingdom
- October 2019: Reformation Day: Luther and Durer
- August 2019: Ordinary Time
- March 2019: Aaron Douglas & James Johnson: Listen Lord
- January 2019: The Speck and the Log
- December 2018: Botticelli: Madonna and Child, with Saints
- November 2018: Gor Chahal and Jan Krist
- August 2018: Year A, Autumn Sunday 8, Parable of the Talents
- May 2018: Ernst Barlach: The Believer
- March 2018: Good Friday: I am Thirsty
- February 2018: Lent: The Rich Man and Lazarus
- January 2018: Third Sunday after Epiphany, Year B
- November 2017: Advent - Johannes Vermeer: Woman with Balance
- September 2017: A year, 6th Sunday of the Autumn
- August 2017: A Year, 10th Sunday of the Summer
- May 2017: Pentecost: Images for the Holy Spirit
- April 2017: Fra Angelico: Christ in Limbo
- February 2017: Roger Wagner: Lazarus (Psalm 49)
- January 2017: Gislebertus: The Dream of the Three Kings
- November 2016: Advent: Butterfly
- November 2016: Reformation Day: Luther and Durer
- September 2016: Reformation Day: Luther and Durer
- January 2016: 25 January - Caravaggio: The Conversion of Saul
- December 2015: Meditating on the Life of Christ
- November 2015: Gor Chahal and Jan Krist
- October 2015: Reformation Day: Luther and Durer
- August 2015: Ordinary Time
- June 2015: Van Gogh: The Sower
- February 2015: Jesus and the Samaritan Woman
- December 2010: Advent - Until He Comes!