In December I was asked by our Rev. Roy Mitchell to accompany the Advent service at Buncombe Street United Methodist Church by painting a live painting during the opening music and sermon. It was quite a challenge because I only had about 15-18 minutes to complete the painting. The message of the sermon was, basically, how Christ is the light in the darkness. I chose to start with a totally black canvas (representing darkness) and painted quickly, using bold brush strokes and colors. I purposely let some of the paint drip, depicting how life can be messy. As I added layer upon layer, the image began to appear. But the folks in the congregation had a hard time figuring out what I was painting.
The painting represents to me how Jesus is the only way we can see positive light in a dark tragic situation. The idea stemmed from a personally tragic situation our family experienced last summer. Our youngest son developed a strong friendship with a set of twin boys from Columbia that he met during a summer on Edisto. Lee introduced us to Thomas and MacRae Few, and later their entire family, who we knew marginally through our brother in law who grew up in Greenwood with their daddy, Wes Few. We became fast friends with the Few family as Thomas was roommates with our nephew, Hudson, at Clemson and MacRae was enrolled at The Citadel as a knob with Lee.
Last summer Thomas suffered a tragic fall in Clemson and died as a result of his injuries. The world of the Few family, 20-year olds across our state, and our own family were darkened beyond comprehension. But the way the Few family and our church, primarily led by Pastor Justin, responded to the grief of our community were such a light and beacon to our Lord God and His unconditional love and peace!
So, when I was asked to paint this theme, I asked Mary Wesley Few (one of my art students and the youngest Few child) to help me with the painting. When we finished, we flipped the painting upside down, and then it was evident to the congregation that the subject matter was a group of candles, lit brightly, in the darkness…much as we remember Thomas, a beautiful bright light in our midst. The painting will hang in the almost-completed Thomas H. Few H2O House at the Frazee Center which will provide a place for marginalized families to bring their children for showers and a laundry facility.