Titus, Carmen Maria - VM - Heidi Salzwedel
Carmen Maria Titus: Life Source One: God’s Spoken Word
by Heidi Salzwedel
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called the Seas: and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1 v 1-10
Carmen Maria Titus produced the series of mezzotint monotype prints titled Life Source One: God’s Spoken Word as a deeply personal process of analysing God outside of the constraints of religious thinking, and treated the Bible as an historical artefact, exploring in detail the events of God, the Source of Life, speaking life as we know it into being. The four images are part of a series of six monotype black and white prints, documenting the process of the six days of creation, with the seventh omitted print being the day of rest.
Titus explains that she is a fervent believer in the Holy Trinity – God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit – and believes that in order to understand the Holy Trinity one needs a complete understanding of God’s Word. She explains that she does not believe in religious thinking as it limits one’s ability to freely investigate who God is. Her experience, as an artist who studies the Bible and then produces art from her findings, is that she has learnt that the Being of God is truly limitless. She explains that “with the exception of his own Word, God is bound to no one and nothing. It made no sense to me to limit a limitless God to the confines of his created humankind’s ideals.”
To search for and discover God one has to start from the very beginning, much like Titus’ process of returning to the beginning and studying God’s creative process. One of Titus’ discoveries is that God works with order and not chaos. His primary order consists of four life sources: his spoken Word, Light, Water & Earth. Each source proceeded from the previous source, with a sense of order and with one creative act forming the logical platform for the next to be birthed. In her investigative project her body of work is the depiction of Life Source One: God’s spoken Word, but in in order to translate her revelation and biblical study into the visual, she decided to use a technique that resembled the creating process of God’s spoken Word. She emulated the Oneness of God by using one singular brass plate as the source of each monotype and unique image. The extremely difficult and meticulous process of using mezzotint as a process is mimicry of God’s precision and sense of order when bringing forth life.
God’s spoken Word is the primary life source from which all creation is birthed, so would the brass plate be the primary life source for the visually interpreted verses of Genesis chapter one. The interpretation is from Titus’ own perspective and understanding of Genesis. It is a personal and reflective translation of her being captivated by the Living God.
Life Source One: God’s Spoken Word was on display as part of a group exhibition at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown (South Africa) with an art collective called 40 Stones in the Wall. The small, yet atmospheric little exhibition room is tucked away next to a vibrant and popular bar, where many artists and performers find themselves during the 10-day annual festival. When art viewers chanced upon the Genesis One series, some didn’t know what to do with the realisation that it is a simple visual depiction of the Bible. One eager festival-goer, with glass of red wine from the bar in one hand, and iPhone clutched in the other, asked: “So… is this basically just like… Genesis, you mean it’s actually the Bible… at an art exhibition?” The gallery attendant in the exhibition room explained that it was exactly that, a visual representation of Genesis as they both looked up Genesis chapter one on their iPhones. They proceeded to examine the text in relation to the images. The visitor to the exhibition explained that he didn’t believe in God and that he didn’t read the Bible anymore, but that this was a new way of seeing the creation story.
Perhaps the young festival-goer who viewed the art one evening, much like Titus herself, desire a renewed way of analysing scripture. Perhaps biblical interpretation and religious experience have become devoid of that impetus to genuinely and unequivocally return to the original Source. As Titus aimed to unearth a new way of perceiving and interpreting the Bible without the restrictions of preconceived religious ideals that she had grown so accustomed to, so too can other searchers find a visual narrative in this Life-Source One: God’s Spoken Word series that may potentially bring them closer to the beginning. Titus explains that her Life Source series is “my way of rediscovering the Father, Son and Holy Spirit without an all-knowing approach, but by carefully seeking out his true mystery.”
Carmen Maria Titus: Life Source One: God’s Spoken Word. Mezzotint monotype print series. 15cm x 15cm each.
Carmen Maria Titus was born in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a trans-media visual artist, but is currently focussing on printmaking while completing her Masters in Visual Art at the Stellenbosch University Visual Arts Department. Her artistic trajectory is about becoming subjective about the creative process again; moving away from the purely objective and conceptual. With an identity rooted in Christ, she aims to meticulously study the Bible as the starting point for her art, and through this realises that the worldly perception of God has not even touched on his Mystery.
Heidi Salzwedel is a visual artist and an Art and Design teacher. She studied Fine Art at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, the home of the South-African National Arts Festival, and she completed a Masters in Visual Art at Stellenbosch University. She is currently living in Cape Town, after a 6-month period overseas in the Netherlands and Italy at an art residency and to network with other visual artists of the Christian faith. She has participated in numerous exhibitions nationally and internationally and is passionate about connecting artists, teaching on the role of the arts in the church and society, and providing a platform for artists to exhibit in a missional manner. Together with a core group of artists she started an art collective called 40 Stones in the Wall, which aims to exhibit art in non-church spaces. They exhibit annually at the National Arts Festival in South Africa.
ArtWay Visual Meditation July 30, 2017