I came across this piece of art by Dona Calles as I wandered the Spanish Market in Santa Fe last July. I spoke to the artist herself, learned that most of her pieces are copper injected with dye but that this one is dye-injected tin. As I wasn’t buying, I wandered off. This piece followed me refusing to let go of my emotions and thoughts. Eventually, I wandered back to buy it because it had touched my soul.
I did not discuss with the artist what her intent was when she created this piece. I don’t know what meaning it has for her. That is as it should be. Like any good literature or musical performance, the visual arts transcend the artist’s vision, interacting with and creating a new vision in the viewer. In other words, we each bring our experiences, our values, our past, and our hopes to a work of art when we view it.
Beginning my relationship with this colored piece of tin, I immediately perceived the Holy Spirit in the object’s shape. As I got to know her better I noticed the golden spiral embedded within the Holy Spirit. This spiral is very common in the petraglyphs of native peoples in the American southwest. On my visit to New Mexico I had already seen this spiral at the ancient ruins of Chaco Canyon and on baseball caps worn by native boys. I’ve seen this ancient spiral in images of galaxies photographed by the Hubble telescope and I’ve seen it embedded in ancient labyrinths. Labyrinth walking as a spiritual discipline, adopted by Christians, is a practice of getting in-tune with the Divine, with the Spirit. So, in this colored piece of tin I perceived humanity’s yearning to live in relationship with the Divine.
But my green piece of metal wasn’t finished with me. As I wandered away she played in my mind. She reminded me that all of humanity is one, that all of Creation is interconnected and flows with God as its lifeblood. The One who Christians worship and who manifested in the trinity of Parent, Child, and Spirit for us, is the same One who my sisters and brothers of other faiths worship.
As our fears of the Other continue to plague humankind, the Holy Spirit used this dye-injected piece of tin to remind me that we are all interconnected. I am reminded that God’s extravagantly abundant love for us reaches out in the dramatic, such as the death and resurrection of Jesus, or the oracles to Muhammed, and in the ordinary, the smiles of friends or the taste of summer blueberries. God’s abundant love is marked on our hearts. We are God’s people. All of us.