Froese, Don - VM - Victoria Emily Jones
Don Froese: The Face of Jesus
Jesus Christ, Our Sun-Face Saviour
by Victoria Emily Jones
Don Froese is a First Nations artist from
Using the visual language of his people, Froese carved an image of the face of Jesus that doubles as a crucifixion image. It shows how Christ’s love spills out, shines bright and carries us through this life into the next.
Jesus is depicted as a sun-face, a traditional motif in
The four rays emanating from the sun-face represent the four races (red, yellow, black, and white), the four directions, and the four seasons. The top two rays contain the nail-pierced hands of the Saviour, while the bottom two contain his nail-pierced feet. These wounds extend to all peoples all over the globe. There is nowhere the Son’s light does not reach.
Notice how the top two wounds appear as little orbs being held in the mouths of two smiling figures. The placement of one creature in unexpected parts of another (in this case, the hands) is a common device in
Moving into the center, we see that Christ’s eyelids are weighed down by salmon, the main food source along the
The red-and-black split-U forms that frame Christ’s face are traditionally styled ears. Froese says they are the ears of God, who listens to the cries of his people. But, he says,
He is not a passive listener. His deep listening to human suffering brings tears, not just drops of tears but great blue rivers of tears which flow down to and connect with the great canoe. The rivers of tears also appear as paddles for the great canoe. The empathetic co-suffering of the Creator and Saviour with his creation propels the great canoe, giving both power for and ultimate meaning to our human journey, including transport back to the Creator.
What a beautiful depiction of such a beautiful truth! God’s answer to our suffering was to enter into it himself through the person of Jesus Christ. Christ’s death on the cross becomes for us both a propulsion and steering mechanism that drives us forward into eternity, back into the arms of our Creator.
For Christians the Crucifixion is a source of strength and power, qualities alluded to by the eagle’s head crest on the bow of the canoe. The Judeo-Christian tradition ascribes similar symbolic associations to the eagle, as seen in Isaiah 40:31: “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
This prophetic promise holds just as true today as it did for the ancient Israelites: those who travel through life powered by the love and grace of God, as shown in Christ, and who adopt his strength as their crest, will arrive safely at their final destination.
Don Froese: The Face of Jesus, 2008, carved and painted design on red cedar panel, 300 x
This meditation was adapted from one in a series of articles originally published on www.thejesusquestion.org on depictions of Jesus in Northwest Coast art.
Don Froese (traditional name: PeqYexwela) belongs to the Seabird Island Band of Stó:lÅ Nation, a Coast Salish people group living along the
Victoria Emily Jones lives in the
ArtWay Visual Meditation January 25, 2015