Iconoclasm is a genuine recognition of the power of the work of art. Nigel Halliday

Art and the Church -> Materials for Use in Churches

Advent - Advent by Gerda Smelik

Gerda Smelik: Advent

by Marleen Hengelaar-Rookmaaker

This work by Dutch artist Gerda Smelik is entitled ‘Advent’ and deals with the coming of Christ into our world. Do you see the child or rather the fetus in the womb of the globe? To me this is an apt rendering of the incarnation of Christ. The Bible tells us an earthly focused gospel about a God who in the beginning created us an earth and about his Son who came down as an embryo in the womb of this earth when it had become dark and dismal. When he completed his journey on earth and had redeemed it, he went back to the Father to return to us anew in the future to dwell with us on a new earth. As humans we are earth-people, inhabitants of clay and sand, commissioned to look well after this terrestrial home.

The good news of Advent and Christmas is that God comes down to us, time and again, in his Son and in his Spirit. We do not need to transcend the world or to ascend to God as on a ladder. Rather he descends to us and fills our hearts and earth with his presence. Recently I heard someone say: ‘Be careful you do not miss him because you are too busy climbing up, while he is coming down.’

Let us celebrate the incarnation this Advent and Christmas, the good news of a pregnant earth. In labour, for sure.

Like an imitation of a good thing past,
These days of darkness surely will not last.
Jesus was here and he is coming again
To lead us to the festival of friends.

(From the song ‘Festival of Friends’ by Bruce Cockburn)


Gerda Smelik: Advent, 2006,  160 x 160 cm, acrylics and oil on canvas, gold leaf, paper, wood chips, sand, glue, photos.

Gerda Smeilik writes about this work: "Advent, a period of reflection and expectance, is portrayed by a globe with a fetus inside. The dark colours stand for the brokenness of life; the light around the fetus and the rays of gold around the globe already announce a better world. When you look at the painting up close, you discover that the suffering of the world is depicted by means of portraits of people in danger and distress."