|Overflow XI, 2008, Jaume Plensa, NOMA|
When I was in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago, I visited the Besthoff Sculpture Garden located in City Park. One of my favorite pieces is of a person hugging his knees. He is made up entirely of letters that flow down and away from the sitting body. The statue is translucent and solid at the same time. The statue is Overflow XI, 2008 by Jaume Plensa, Spanish. I love the flow of letters and the way light and air move through the sitting body. When I first saw this being a pastor I said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
But as I have watched this image appear on my scrolling photos gadget, I stop every time. There is something about the work that moves me. I think because words have always been an important part of my identity. I like expressing my thoughts and feelings through words, so the image of a person made up of letters that stream off them appeals to me. The words and letters, through their flow, help to show the body and at the same time going beyond the body to the world.
Plensa in speaking of his works has expressed “his belief that our life experiences leave indelible yet invisible marks on us which can be read by those who know us best.'' (Yorkshire Sculpture Park). He added during an interview last year: “letters and words became my materials now… the association of the letters like body cells can create words in more complex organisms; and the words between them can form a text that, gathered with others, can write a culture.”(NOMA, Educators Guide). Plensa has allowed the letters, the words to give shape and form to thought and figure. I like how the letters flow off of us. The letters give shape and form, and those who know us can read these words.
Today the scripture that spoke to me while looking at this work was Psalm 19
1 The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; 4 yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. …The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. … 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
The words we speak and help form our being whether expressed or not shape both ourselves and our communal life. The words I find in scripture I hope overflow into my life, impacting how I interact with people and how I interact with the world. The words are life giving, mostly. They help me in whatever mood to move beyond myself and into the Kingdom, by reviving my soul, expressing my pain and sorrow, and offer hope.
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you.