Books of the Bible Windows Poster
In January 2022 I started a project that I’ll call Books of the Bible Windows poster. Inspiration was first sparked in late 2021—A theology lecturer / friend asked me (as a Catholic artist in NZ) about a Bible books artwork that he had created as an educational art resource for students. As providence would have it, other people within Catholic school / Josephite school / religious education (USA, NZ, AUS) circles asked about a Bible books art resource around that time too. So, I prayed, and over the next few months the possible educational art project stayed in my heart. The more time passed, the more my love of stained glass art windows and traditional etching stayed in my heart too. This led me the to think....
Why don’t I create an artwork poster for the Catholic Bible in stained glass and etching?
And really, let's go big! Only bigness has the power to transform hearts. With a focus on it being an art resource for all Catholic and Josephite schools in NZ, AU, USA and beyond I began... Little did I know what I was getting myself into—yes, this led to many *hand to forehead* moments over the seven months it took to complete the modern Catholic art project. Long story short, listening led me to continuously say yes to creating this new Catholic Books of the Bible Windows poster.
Catholic schools and churches have a rich tradition of beauty through painting, stained glass and etchings. Our document Via Pulchritudinis (The Way of Beauty) highlights the role of beauty as a powerful tool to open our hearts to God's ways—religious education through beauty—this is surely a tradition we must carry forward for Catholic schools in Australia, NZ and worldwide? With research I discovered that there are no other visual translations of the Catholic Bible like this. I hope this new etching bible art and stained glass art poster connects and inspires other catholic artists to create beautiful modern Catholic education resources too (just like the beauty I also experience through the Word on Fire Bible).
When Saint Jerome first translated the Old Testament into Latin from the original Hebrew, little did he know what translations would follow. “Literature, art and even popular language have continually been shaped by Jerome’s translation of the Bible, leaving us great treasures of beauty and devotion.”(1) I can see now that Pope Francis was onto something when he said that our “quest of religious truth can be a passionate adventure that unites heart and mind.”(1)
May we be mindful that God is alive in scripture today and hold close to our hearts “the advice that Jerome unceasingly gave to his contemporaries: “Read the divine Scriptures constantly; never let the sacred volume fall from your hand”.(1)
This scripture artwork poster has been collaborative and community based project, I could not have completed it without the help from others. I am deeply grateful for the support from my Josephite congregation (to all Sisters of Saint Joseph that have kept me going), Auckland lecturers at the Catholic Theological College (especially Fr Merv Duff SM), Te Kupenga staff, teachers, friends and family in USA, AUS and NZ (thanks mum), that have encouraged me when I felt like giving up. This visual translation / modern artwork of the Catholic Bible is a community effort.
Looking to the future I am also very keen to hear from teachers if there are other resources would be useful for lessons - perhaps digital images with no names on the scrolls so students can print a section and fill in the names? or any other ideas? please get in touch and let me know.
My dream is for this poster to be in every Catholic school - lets go big in size and scope!
We would be so grateful if you would consider purchasing a large print for of this educational art resource your school, parish, home or community organisation. If you are also aware of a school that cannot afford a print, then please get in touch—I'll try to remedy that—ALL students should have access to this work.
The process and imagery is also listed on the image gallery and design details below. Click on the images below to view full images, descriptions and learn how the artwork process unfolded. After seven months in the making (now August 2022), as a Catholic artist, I truly hope this new visual translation / Books of the Bible Windows poster / RE resource art is helpful for religious education teachers, students and all who are searching for truth through our good God of beauty and truth—"For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light".(2)
> The etching line details can remind us of the delicate intimacy and intricacy of God's patient ways in our lives.
> The stained glass imagery can remind us that God is always shinning through in our lives, revealing through the Word.
If we look towards something it can become like an icon. But, if we look through the Word, like looking through stained glass windows we can experience revelation in every place and space.
> The scroll, codices and letter size is based on the amount of text in the Bible. For example, the book of Genesis has 50 chapters, so it takes up about half of the width of the window.
> The tree that flows from left to right is an acacia tree. The acacia tree wood is used the make up the ark of the covenant. The tree and light on the windows shows the light starting with genesis. Natural light also streams through the windows from the right (New Testament). Old and New come together.
> The pieces of glass are held together drawn with ‘came’. The colours illustrated are very accurate to how the colours would need to be separated if actually made with stained glass.
Fruits, flowers and more:
Pentateuch: Wheat, Bees, Lady Bugs, Grass, Myrtle Communis, Dates, Olives, Erodium Crassifolium, Apricots, Pomegranate
Historical: Wheat, Grass, Bees, 5 Stones, Golden Flowers, Olives, Blood of the Maccabees, Figs, Peas, Thistle, Dove
Wisdom and Poetry: Bullrush, Grass, Bees, Deer, Eagle, Lily of the Valley, Delphinium, Apples, Dates, Roses, Madonna Lily, Thistle
Prophets: Owl, Shepherd, Sheep, Locust, Swift / Swallow, Grass, Leeks, Dog Chamomile, Crocus or Meadow Saffron, Almonds, Anemone / Poppy (Lily of the Field), Dates, Daffodils, Tulips, Roses, Grapes and Vine
New Testament: Magi, Lady Bug, Dragonfly, Butterflies (transformation), Wheat, Grapes and Vines, Crocus, Grass, Anemone / Poppy (Lily of the Field), Dog Chamomile, Flowers, Acorns and Leaves
Top Windows: Alpha and Omega, Two gold Cherubim (they sit on top of the Ark of the Covenant), 12 Stars (12 Tribes and 12 Apostles), Trinity, Scroll (left), Parchment paper (right) – joining together with the Trinity and all colours of the rainbow (new covenant).
Symbols: Visual symbols can be found on each scroll, these visual translations represent some of the stories / meaning told within each book, codices and letters.
Surprises / ‘Easter Eggs’: There are also little surprises or what artists call ‘easter eggs’ with small symbolism that can be found throughout the background imagery – it’s up for you to find it. You might even find a unicorn head in the New Testament! Unicorns have been used to symbolise Christ through history (especially in the middle ages).
Ideas for teaching:
Cover up the words with post-it notes and have students guess the contents based on the symbol?
Cover up the symbols and have students create symbols for each?
Ask students to create their own symbols, fruits and flowers for each section