Unfinished, by artist Doug McGill, Pittsburgh

But Jesus’s cross challenges us  May 1, 2023

Luke 23:26 As they led Jesus away, a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene [a city in North Africa] happened to be coming in from the countryside. The soldiers seized him and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. … “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”“Take my yoke upon you. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Luke 23:26, Matthew 16:24; 11:29-30.

Station 3: The cross is laid on Simon of Cyrene

Doug says the following about his painting:

This piece is very much unfinished, which in many ways reflects the station. It calls each of us to take up the cross and follow Jesus.

My vision for the piece was to capture Simon of Cyrene returning from the field and being surprised by stumbling onto the scene of Christ’s brokenness, the soldiers’ dilemma, and the realization of what he was being called to partake in. In my mind, Simon was off to the Temple to make a celebratory peace offering – hence the young goat in his arms (see Leviticus 7:11-18). In the scene, he’s about to become a partaker in the preparation of a much more significant offering. 

I chose a section of the Via Dolorosa that felt closed in, tight, and inescapable, with no option of creating the distance from suffering we so often desire. The dimension is meant to draw the viewer in to see Simon’s confrontation with the cross, feel the tension of a change in course, and emphasize the realizations that can come in a spilt second through the chaos of human drama.  

I’m not convinced the current draft captures the intention, but the process of envisioning this work did provide a self-reflection of seeing oneself in the call to love God and others. Even in deep brokenness, facing hostility and suffering, Christ invites us to walk with him.

I hope to continue working on the piece and paint as time allows. Doug

[Debbie] As I’ve taken time to let this painting challenge me, the fact that it’s unfinished lets me see myself in Simon’s place, coming from my own tasks with my own purposes in mind, to a sudden confrontation with Jesus in the very act of laying down his life for me, too hurt and broken to continue bearing the weight of the cross. What will be my response?

Sandi Patty’s beautiful song “Via Dolorosa” captures some of this emotion.

2 thoughts on “Unfinished, by artist Doug McGill, Pittsburgh

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this, Debbie. I really appreciated both Doug’s description of his thoughts as he created it, but also your personal application of this beautiful work of “unfinished” art. It reminded me that we are each His masterpiece as we learn in Ephesians, but “unfinished” in His plans in us and through us until He chooses to take us “home”. It makes me think of Karis and that she faithfully “finished” His plan for her with courage and humility. May it be so for each of us. As I am typing this, Greg is playing Via Delarosa. What a powerful song!!

    Liked by 1 person

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