The Divine Exchange is my painting choice for the month of February. This piece took me over a year to finish, it was particularly imposing as my understanding of it kept changing. In an attempt to keep true to the composition in my head, I had to let it sit at different intervals to ‘air out’. However, the intimidation I felt during the early phases of this piece eventually faded, and the significance began to surface. It started with a sense of guarding one’s heart. Later I saw it as a call to love your inner-self while being still and at peace.
When I first shared this painting two strikingly different perspectives came to light. One of those being when a friend told me how it reminded her of a Catholic Saint, Catherine of Siena. As I began to research I was taken aback by the similarities. For example, she had a twin sister (although she did die at infancy, I thought this was interesting). Catherine of Siena also cut off her hair so that she didn’t have to marry (Catholic, ¶ 2-3). Additionally, she is often depicted with flowers because it is reported that when her followers attempted to take part of her remains to Siena as a final resting place, Roman guards intercepted them, but only found rose petals in the bag (¶ 54). Reading her story was fascinating to me, especially since I had never even heard of this Saint.
Another incredible story was from a cardiac nurse and her friend who was a heart transplant survivor. I received an email after they happened upon the Divine Exchange at a local coffee shop where I had it displayed at the time. Their experience with the painting stemmed from a journey to literally find a new heart .Even more uncanny to me, was the fact that this heart recipient looks like the figure in the painting. It brought a uniquely personal meaning to this piece and I felt blessed to tears with the story, and how my painting could speak life to someone in such a personal way.
The deeply emotional, even spiritual aspects of this painting show how art allows people to see different facets of personal significance. Each person taking in a piece of art will see it with their own perspective. This brings a new level of importance and purpose; speaking to our hearts and creating a truly Divine Exchange.
Catholic Online (Ed.). (2020). St. Catherine of Siena. Retrieved February 01, 2020, from https://www.catholic.org/