Paul Roorda is a Canadian artists whose art transforms found materials to create two dimensional work, sculpture, and outdoor site-specific weather damaged works on paper that examine the relationship between religion, science, and environmentalism. He has been awarded grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council and exhibits his work regularly in public art galleries as well as academic and religious institutions such as Wilfred Laurier University, The Toronto School of Theology and the Ottawa City Hall Art Gallery. He has upcoming exhibitions at the Grimsby Public Art Gallery in Ontario, Canada, and at the Dadian Gallery at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC.
More of Paul Roorda’s art can be seen at www.paulroorda.com.
Using ashes, gold leaf, and discarded texts, my recent work transforms traditional Christian art and ritual by creating ceremonial vessels, reliquaries, and icons which reflect a neo-liturgical approach to the disposal of aged and damaged Bibles. By salvaging gilded Bible pages or ashes of ritually burned Bibles, the book becomes art that retains a memory of the word. Deeply meaningful elements such as gold, eggs, fire, and beeswax are used in ways that transform the book and along with it, our notions of the place of faith in society. This work pushes the tradition of using egg tempera and gold leaf in icon painting well past its usual two-dimensional boundaries to create a small bowls of ashes and egg yolk that are later laid with gold leaf. In a similar way, traditions of Christian ritual practice and belief are acknowledged and yet challenged with the use of fire to dispose of worn or unused Bibles. The art recalls religious acts of devotion and yet, at the same time, points to the loss of what is held as sacred. Each creative work is also an act of destruction. Beauty embraces its shadow. This art draws attention to the absence of an authoritative ritualized tradition for the disposal of sacred text in Christianity and in creating new rituals it fills a liturgical void with uneasy possibility.
Seven Bowls, 2012, ashes, egg yolk, clove oil, beeswax, and gold leaf, 7 x 7 x 2.5 inches each
Icon I, 2012, gilded Bible pages, cut and mounted on board with antique frame, 23 x 27 inches
Reliquary, 2012, altered Bible and ashes, on antique lectern, 28 x 12 x 12 inches
Icon II, 2012, gilded Bible pages, cut and mounted on board with panel of ashes, egg yolk, and clove oil, on board in antique frame, 23 x 27 inches.