We had a really stimulating discussion at our Plus group earlier this week – Tom was leading the evening and he had us watch Alain de Botton‘s latest TED talk on Atheism 2.0. I was so glad he chose to do this, and even more glad that I am surrounded in a Christian community that has no problem with the unconventional. Maybe it’s just the imagined (and if I’m honest, villainized) conservative Christian in my mind who would take offense at sitting through what was essentially a very convincing sermon for the other side, instead of looking at the bible at a bible study… I don’t know, I’ve grown up in HK (a cosmopolitan place) and in The Vine (quite an unconventional church). Here we have liberal views on things, I’m told that this is not the case for many other Christians. Whatever the case, no one freaked out – so, go us! What shallow type of faith would be afraid of listening to another (albeit very clever) person’s reasons for not believing?

Anyway, I’m coming down with the flu & promised myself an early night so I can’t go too deeply into Atheism 2.0 right now. I will read Religion for Atheists and write down more thoughts in a later post.

For now, what I wanted to do was to apply some action to another, unexpected gem that I took home from the TED talk – the idea of the artist discussing their art. I won’t attempt to recap what Mr. de Botton (Mr.Botton?) said about this, so please do take a moment to watch the TED yourself.

As an artist I have been guilty of refusing to talk about my work, sometimes even citing ‘art for art’s sake’. This is stupid. Actually, I always have reasons and ideas behind what I make – and I always tell Tom all about them, and then swear him to secrecy! I haven’t put enough thought into my reasons for this yet – I’d like to think I do it so I can hear what other people get form my work without their experience being colored by mine, but the truth is probably closer to something like me being a Rumpelstiltskin, wanting to appear mystical…

Again, great food for another post.
Now, on to some action.

This is a painting I made last year… or 2010, I forget…

I had met with an wonderful lady in church called Eufemia to pray through some of my life stuff, not overly focused on any one thing, just free styling, if you will… and I ended up telling her about this awful experience I’d had when I was a little girl. The summary of which is that as my family was driving some relatives from out of town back to the airport after their visit, my little cousin started crying and saying she wanted the dress I was wearing. The dress was a recent handmedown from an older cousin. Even as a child I was surprised to find that the adults in the car did not defend me or tell her that her demands were crazy, but instead asked if I would be willing to hand the dress over and spend the rest of the car ride in my undies. I remember feeling totally wronged and going into a tantrum at the horror of the whole situation and then allowing it to become evidence to a growing conclusion that I was indeed, a bad girl. I was not generous enough to sit in my undies. Even though I did keep hold of the dress I never felt like I wanted any rights to it after that.

I hadn’t really put much time or thought into remembering the incident, it really wasn’t too big a deal, but after praying with Eufemia I had a sense that God wanted me to know that He cared about it, and that he was asking me to paint a picture of the dress – my dress – in a symbolic gesture to remind me that God sees the little things and is able to restore any loss or damage done to his children, regardless of time.

So, that’s the story behind this painting.

1 thought on “My Orange Fish Dress

  1. You make me cry… this is such a beautiful post, with so much freedom! I remember that plus evening when Tom showed that TED talk. It was amazing! It really challenged me to think about exactly what I believed and I will never forget that you can’t just take out the good things from a religion and apply it to your life like it will fix everything. You have to take the “bad” or hurtful, challenging and sacrificial things as well. I think Tom said this. I can’t remember.

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