An exhibit at the Blair County Arts Foundation office depicts the day Christ was crucified from a different perspective.
"Station(ary)" by Brian A. Erickson of Altoona takes the observer through the journey to golgotha by imagining what different people along the way might have seen. He illustrates the scenes not only from where a person may have stood in the crowd, but what they could have seen depending on their height.
"The basic premise is if you stand and watch the procession go by with the rest of the crowd, you will not see the entire scope or the entire scene," Erickson said.
(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec)
Brian A. Erickson is the artist for “Station(ary)” at the Blair County Arts Foundation. The exhibit is based on the Stations of the Cross.
"What do you see at different angles?" he asked. "If you are close to the ground and Jesus falls, you will have a different view than from someone who is 6 feet tall."
Erickson originally displayed the exhibit in Baltimore, where he has lived the last six years after leaving his home in Denver, Colo.
He said St. Ignatius Church in Baltimore had a curated gallery where he had several shows. One of his works, "Within Reach," launched the idea for "Station(ary)." It was an oil painting of Christ's outstretched arm nailed to the cross with his index finger and middle finger extended as a sign of blessing.
If you go
When: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays through April except for April 6
Where: Blair County Arts Foundation, 1212 12th Ave.
For information: 949-2787
"Jesus is telling us to take his hand and hold on," Erickson said. He said that even in a vulnerable position, he pictured Christ as reaching out to others.
He said people who saw the painting encouraged him to paint the Stations of the Cross.
For those who want to view the work and other paintings of Christ as well as saints, the BCAF office, 1212 12th Ave., is open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays, and the exhibit will be available through April. The office will be closed April 6.
Barbara Dick of Altoona recently had an opportunity to view "Station(ary)" which hangs in the board room, allowing viewers an opportunity for meditation and privacy.
"It's very sobering to see the scars and open wounds," Dick said. "To stop and think of the physical suffering and emotional suffering Christ went through for us. I almost wanted to cry."
Dick, who attends a Brethren in Christ church, said the exhibit also offers hope.
The final painting shows Christ's torso enveloped in a purple robe.
"He did rise from the dead. He's our path to eternal life," she said. "You go from sorrow to happiness," adding that the exhibit ends with the hope of the Resurrection.
A self-taught artist, Erickson said "Station(ary)" took him eight months to complete and at times, was difficult to paint.
"It's a horrible painful way to kill someone. I can't even imagine," Erickson said. "It was painful to work on. How do you do this to another person?"
None of the scenes depict a whole body, but what Erickson describes as a snapshot of what someone in the crowd would see that day. People would see different glimpses, he said.
"You might only see feet and knees here or shoulders there," he said.
What ties the glimpses together is Christ's blood.
From "Behold the King" to the "Pieta" (Mary cradling the body of Jesus), each painting contains evidence of the flogging or the Crucifixion.
Blood can be found on Mary's robe in "Mary's Tears," on Simon's arm as he carries the cross in "By Your Side," Veronica's veil in "Such Small Things" and on Jesus hand when he confronts the women of Jerusalem in "Weep Not For Me."
"Each of these people were physically changed by their contact with Jesus," Erickson said. "Our lives affect other people whether we recognize it or not. That awareness makes us more cognizant of our choices."
In the scenes that focus on Jesus alone, Erickson progressively shows Jesus' state of exhaustion as he falls three times carrying the cross. He first paints Jesus collapsing to his knees; in the second fall, he's on his shins; and by the third fall, he is prostrate with the cross lying on top of him.
The Crucifixion scenes show only his feet in "Nailed to the Cross" and his wounded side in "It is Finished."
Erickson said he took some artistic license by choosing to show Christ's arm exposed outside the linen cloth in the "Entombment" scene.
"It's a reminder of what transpired," he said.
He depicts wounds in Jesus' hands and wrists. Erickson said historically, the first nail was hammered into the palm where it inflicted the maximum amount of pain on the nerves. A second nail was hammered into the wrist because the palm would not support a person's weight, he said.
"Whether it is the person being crucified or the crucifier, to inflict that amount of pain on anyone is beyond my comprehension," Erickson said.
At the end of the exhibit, he challenges visitors by asking how they will respond to the scenes.
"Does your faith compel you to act or do you remain stationary?" he asked.
He said "Station(ary)" and his exhibit of saints are tied together because they show ordinary people who made changes that altered history.
Among them are St. Joseph, who took on the role of Jesus' father; St. Valentine, who was beheaded for sharing his faith; St. Raymond Nonnatus, who according to legend, had his mouth padlocked shut by the Moors to prevent him from preaching; and St. Agatha, who was persecuted for her faith.
"Our lives affect other people whether we recognize it or not. That awareness makes us more cognizant of our choices," Erickson said.