23-25 April 2014
Hope Chapel, Liverpool Hope University, L16 9JD
Most Easter gardens in churches have always been depicted as an open cave with a rock rolled on the side or an empty cross drape with white cloth. These depictions allude to the account of the first witnesses of an empty tomb and the incidents surrounding the first eastern morn as recorded in the Bible and as passed on in the Christian tradition.
In his recent simultaneous art installations at St. Francis Xavier’s Church and Liverpool Hope University Chapel, Jason Dy, SJ proposes another view of an Easter garden from Johannine post-resurrection account (21:1-25) of Jesus’ apparition to his disciples in the Lake of Gennesaret (or Lake Tiberias).
Jutting out from the circular lump of charcoal, a pair of painted welded iron bears the suspended bisque dried clay fish (inscribed with texts either from direct quotation of John’s Gospel or paraphrased dialogue of Peter and Jesus). The graduated colors of black, red, yellow and gold suggest the transformation of life’s dark despairing to illuminating joy—reflecting Christ’s triumph over death. The Zen-like lake-scape of pebbles, found objects and lakeside grass provided a backdrop for a poignant scene of disciples fishing in vain at night, of hauling a net full of fish at the suggestion of unrecognized Risen Lord at dawn, of Jesus preparing breakfast consisting of charcoal grilled fish and bread in the morning, and of Peter being questioned three times on his love for the Christ whom he denied thrice.
In a way, Dy presents in his installation an essay on negation and faith-conviction as well as site and interaction. Like Paul Thek, Dy has been engaging the church’s religious rituals as a site for his installation works. This Easter garden completes his engagement with the Christian liturgical seasons from Advent, Christmas to Lent. He invites the viewers to take a walk around and enter into the tableau of apparition, communion and mission.
Though his installation negates from the conventional Easter garden, he nonetheless keeps the faith-conviction of narrative of the resurrection offering the Christian theme of ineffable love that overcomes the evil of the cross and the curse of death.
In another sense, Dy seems to highlight the idea of food for spiritual nourishment. Woven palm fronds shaped like hearts have provided another layer of meaning. This additional element reconnects him to his local tradition of woven puso as container of cooked rice as staple side dish with the grilled fish. Here, he taps into the theological insight of artist and theologian Masao Takenaka that God as rice, as bread in the western world, in Japanese culture. As for Korean poet Kim Chi-ha:
Heaven is rice,
When we eat and swallow rice,
Heaven dwells in our body.
Indeed, Dy offers a food for thought and of soul in this Easter season especially for the parishioners of SFX Church and participants of the Association for Catholic Institutes for the Study of Education (ACISE) at Liverpool Hope University.
For more information:
St. Francis Xavier Church at firstname.lastname@example.org /0151 298 1911
Hope Chaplaincy at email@example.com /0151 291 3545