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.


Vonaesch, Corinne - VM - Marleen Hengelaar

Corinne Vonaesch: Word of Light

An Embryo of Light
by Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker
‘In the beginning was the Word.’ These are the first words of the gospel of John. In them we hear an echo of the opening sentence of Genesis 1. The first verses of John 1 form a small new creation story that zooms in on the Word through whom all things came into being. In the Word was life and the life was light, verse 4 tells us. The Word dispelled the darkness, the formless void and the primeval tide and there was light. And God saw that it was good, in the beginning. 
Many centuries later the Word came to the world to drive away the darkness once again. He nestled in the womb of Mary as a small ball of light in the midst of the primeval tide of the amniotic fluid. We see this depicted in Corinne Vonaesch’ painting. Notice how with a few lines she has suggested a father and mother figure enveloping and protecting him. Even wombs are part of the big bad world. Did Jesus experience here already the first pin-pricks of pain and suffering? One wonders, if he was aware in utero when John jumped up in the womb of Elisabeth to greet him, did he sense the unrest and fear of his mother because she was unmarried and pregnant?
How vulnerable Jesus made himself by coming into the world as a small embryo! He descended completely into our humanity, not only as a baby in a poor stable, but also as a defenceless foetus in the body of his mother. What a trust he must have had, just as later in the boat in the storm on the lake – a subject that Corinne Vonaesch depicted several times in a quite similar way as we can see in the painting below.
The painting Word of Light brings us literally to the core of the incarnation. In this tiny kernel Jesus’ total divinity and total humanity were already fully implied. Does this mean that his DNA contained human imperfections? Maybe he inherited not only the calm character of his mother, but also, so to speak, her predisposition to headaches or her inability to bear much noise. However this may be, we know that Jesus was not immune to the lure of evil, even though he was able time and again to choose for what truly offered life. Jesus went through the depths of being human and in this way opened the way for us to be fully and truly human as children of God (John 1:12).
This is the joyful message of Christmas: Jesus enters our human darkness to lead us to the light. He has done this not only 2000 years ago, nor will he do this only in the far-off future, but he does this also today. This too is portrayed in the painting by Corinne Vonaesch. We see Jesus present as an embryo of light in the darkness of our heart. He speaks his words of goodness and truth there, so that we may know that we are loved and may also grow in love ourselves. As he is with us, we can live in trust just like the vulnerable infant he once was. For we may know that, as John 1:5 states, ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.’
Corinne Vonaesch: Word of Light, 2011, acrylics on canvas, 60 x 80 cm.
Corinne Vonaesch: The Storm Appeased, 2011, acrylics on canvas, 65 x 54 cm.
Corinne Vonaesch was born in 1970 in Geneva, Switzerland, where she still lives today. She majored in visual arts in high-school and that is where she first discovered and investigated artistic expression. She chose to pursue a BA in Psychology, while she also continued to develop her artistic skills in a self-taught manner. She gradually developed a unique pictorial style full of colours and contrasts. Since 2001 she has exhibited her artworks at various expositions around the world. Her series ‘John's Gospel in 21 paintings’ was shown at Philadelphia Biblical University throughout the year 2011. She says: ‘My activity as an artist-painter is a spiritual pursuit as much as an artistic one: to paint is a meditative act to me that translates itself into images. The paintings that flow forth from this, mainly inspired by biblical texts, are part of my personal spiritual journey.’
Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker is Chief Editor of ArtWay.
ArtWay Visual Meditation December 16, 2012