Sunday, December 20, 2020

Ephesians 1:3-14: There's Chance and There's Chosen

Christ chose us, destined us, and adopted us, according to Ephesians 1:3-14. Chosen, not chance. In time, the writer of Ephesians goes on to say, all things (including us) will be gathered up in him. Jeremiah 31:8-10 talks about gathering up of the people of God who have been scattered and bringing them back home. This idea of being disordered and reordered, of chance and choice, plays out in an interesting way in the collages of Jean Arp and Ellsworth Kelly. 

Collage itself is a gathering and ordering process. Originally made of paper (papier colle...or pasted paper), collage may include any number of materials and processes, assembled and reassembled, arranged and rearranged, until the desired image or effect is achieved. 

Jean Arp moved in exactly the opposite direction by tearing pieces of paper, dropping them onto a paper support and pasting them where they landed. Arp controlled the pieces to be dropped - their size, color, shape - but he allowed the weight of the paper, any movement in the air, and other physical properties to impact the paper and determine the ultimate composition. The pieces were chosen but then left to their own devices or to the winds of fate.

Ellsworth Kelly also created a collage based on chance. The colored papers were cut into squares and placed in the collage grid through a mathematical system that associated numbers with colors. The mathematical system, rather than the intention of the artist, determined the final composition of the work. Kelly's title - "Spectrum Colors Arranged by Chance" - tells the story.

God's care, outlined in both Ephesians and Jeremiah is the opposite of chance. According to Jeremiah, God's people are not treated like Arp's paper, left to find their own place according to whatever influences may act upon them. Nor are God's people exactly like the papers in Kelly's collage, arranged by the luck of the draw according to some system set in motion. Instead, the people of God are chosen before the foundations of the earth. And though scattered, they are gathered from the farthest parts of the earth and brought home, walking by streams of water in a straight path. That's good news, because while chance may lead to some interesting art, it's not much in terms of a divine plan.

(Top) Jean (Hans) Arp. Untitled (Collage with Squares Arranged according to the Law of Chance).1916–17. NY: Museum of Modern Art. (Bottom) Ellsworth Kelly. Spectrum Colors Arranged by Chance I. 1951. Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

No comments:

Post a Comment