Today is Martin Luther King Day, an important holiday for all fine artists being that it is both about color and the strength of ideas and conviction.
First, let’s deal with the issue of color. As an artist, I deal with color everyday. I also read and/or paint with the words of the Bible everyday.
I spend a lot of time painting and studying Genesis, Isaiah, Proverbs and the beloved Psalms. I study the first three chapters of Genesis and I still learn more and have insights whenever I do! It amazes me. I seem to never tire of the Genesis:Sunset-Sunrise series because I learn so much from these texts.
In Genesis the Creator makes Adam – the first man and the prototype for humankind from the earth, from dirt. There’s this line we hear in Christian services and the movies, which goes, “From dust we came and to dust we return” or some variation of that theme. In Hebrew, the name, Adam means “red” pertaining to the earth’s dirt. This name is later echoed in the name of Rebecca and Isaac’s first born and Jacob’s brother, Esau, also known as Edom, who is the ancestor of the Edomites. Note the similarity of sound of these Hebrew names.
So, what color is dirt?
Well, it kind of depends on where the dirt is. At my house here in the Hamptons , I have really rich dark brown, almost black dirt because I recycle and since before the Revolutionary War the families who have lived here have used leaves as mulch and recycled the old foliage back into the ground that used to be sandy. I know this both based on what I have been told and also because neighbors not far away have rather sandy dirt that a coffee au lait color. About four miles away from me are wonderful ocean beaches, where the sand is a very light tan that is almost white, that’s about the color of my own skin. I am a natural blond. When I lived in Arizona, I saw earth and rocks that were varying shades of red. Thanks to photography and film-making, I have also seen dirt or sand that is more yellowish than my local sand.
I have never met anyone who is not the color of the earth – the dirt – somewhere. Have you?
I think the idea of calling ourselves Black or White is rather uppity. It is as if we are not the color of the earth, but instead the color of the night sky, white like the clouds or stars or even the moon. Uppity. As an artist who deals with color and who has met many people or at least seen them in major USA cities, I can say that I have never seen anyone who was actually black (really, really dark brown for sure, though) or actually white (not even albinos who are pinkish and I’ve seen pinkish sand).
Mankind is really only colored the variations of the earth. Extend your forearm next to anyone else’s and theirs may be lighter or darker, bit yellower or redder in hue but as an artist, I can say that these are only differences in shades, not really in much color. We’re all basically colored like the dirt of the earth.
It’s not like one person’s really a royal purple and another’s a pale green. The animal kingdom has blacks, whites (just look at a zebra!), wild yellows, reds, purples, greens, blues, etc., but mankind’s skin is the color of the earth.
It seems to be the breath, the ruach (in Hebrew) that the Lord breathes into Adam and each of us that gives us our true vibrancy.
When I was younger there was no Martin Luther King Day. We celebrated Washington’s Birthday and Lincoln’s Birthday. Both Washington and Lincoln are huge modern figures for freedom. OK, maybe not modern to you, but certainly modern compared to Moses and Jesus or other Biblical figures and that’s the idea.
Martin Luther King Scripture Portrait by Judy Rey Wasserman (Strokes = Exodus 6: 1-13, 25-30)) This artwork is available as a print at: https://artofseeingthedivine.com/product/martin-luther-king-jr-strokes-exodus-6-1-13-25-30/
Washington did not fire the shot heard round the world but he was the general who won the war that insures that shot will be heard. It is the shot for self rule, democracy and freedom for all men (later they added in women). Unlike earlier democracies of Greece and Rome, this new democracy was not based on what one owned, but only on age and citizenship. Thus, for the very first time, freedom for all. Well, all in the USA and that’s in theory, but still, it was a huge step forward. We all owe Washington and the founding fathers a whole lot. But, that’s a different blog to come.
Lincoln freed the slaves. Books have been written about why he did this, but the fact is he did it. In the history of the world no one ever voluntarily did this before! There are still slaves in this world as I write this. Yet the idea that slavery is wrong and slaves should be voluntarily freed really began in the USA based on the liberation of Israel from Egypt.
However, the Pharaoh was definitely coerced based on the plagues and then tried to recapture the Israelites only to have his men drown in the Red Sea. America really freed the slaves. It had never really been done before. In fact, the Underground Railroad and the whole abolitionist movement were revolutionary, even strange in the whole history of the world. It seems normal and right to us now. Read history. It was not only revolutionary; it was downright weird at the time. On the other hand, to the Lord, it was never weird, it was right. Still an all time first on this planet and something to be proud of if you’re an American.
Well, in theory it was freedom for all and women had the vote and … but having laws and actually applying them were not the same thing, Not only in the USA but throughout the history of the world. Well, along came Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers and so many others, Negroes and Caucasians, Christians and Jews, who peacefully protested that constitutional rights were being denied. Yet another new idea in the history of the world! And the protesters were not protesting on their own behalf but often on behalf of others!
In fact, although this was a secular issue the people protesting were mostly religious Christians and Jews. If you look at some of the photos of the time, at the front of the marches, along with the Rev. Dr. King, there were other clergy, including very prominently and usually, Rabbi Heschel . Martin Luther King had a dream, a dream righteous men and women share even today – a dream of equality of opportunity to be who the Lord made each, individually to be..
So honoring Washington and Lincoln, heroes, leaders and presidents of wars for freedom became Presidents Day and our new national hero and leader, a minister and man of non-violence, Martin Luther King became the honoree of the other winter national holiday in the USA Amongst ourselves we may fuss and argue, but basically we can disagree peacefully. Isn’t that what democracy is all about?
I’m glad that Coretta Scott King and I are basically the same color although she is darker and I am lighter. It’s just a difference in shade. As the sun sets, at the end of the day, with the lengthening of shadows, as an artist who knows color keenly I promise you the difference in color is negligible. We are both of the earth, of the land of America .
When I paint a person at sunrise or sunset, poised against the rising or setting light of the sun, it’s hard to tell if that person is black, white, red or yellow, because next to the Light it really cannot be seen or matter.
By the way, if you look at the footsteps in Shavout Diaspora (Pentecost) under the Trees of Life series link, you’ll see that each of those foot step impressions are made from the name of the Lord (yud hey vav hey) in the colors of dark brown, yellow, reddish and sandy – the basic colors of mankind. It’s painted that way because we must each, individually come to the Lord, on our own. Yet we are all and each individually made in the Likeness of the Lord. Rationally or logically it is a paradox or mystery.
Spiritually, it’s obvious.
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Judy Rey Wasserman is an artist and the founder of Post Conceptual Art theory and also the branch known as UnGraven Image Art at ungravenimage.com.
Check out the Fine Art Limited Edition prints, decorative prints, books, and printables that are currently available to you through Judy Rey’s Art of Seeing The Divine Shop. You don’t have to buy to avail yourself of the art and inspiration available there. However, if you select to collect investment quality archival art, or decorate your home with images created with strokes that are original letters from Bible texts, or buy a gift for someone special, there is a secure shopping cart that accepts most credit cards so your purchase is easy to accomplish. https://artofseeingthedivine.com
Post Conceptual UnGraven Image Art theory is based at the intersection of ancient spiritual wisdom and cutting edge contemporary science. It shows us a new and enhanced spiritual and science based way to see the world. It is a life changing vision that can even become an actual new way of seeing that is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Can this be true? See for yourself. See more.