Artist Statement | Image Gallery | Home | Close Portfolio (and return to SMP index)

Danielle Hersey


Jesus Trees
Or The Gospel According to Landscape

My artwork seeks to express the basic Gospel message of Christianity-that Jesus died in our place to bring forgiveness and reconciliation with a loving God-in an accessible, non-traditional way. Subject matter such as mine can be approached in many different ways, including forms of preaching and teaching. My intentions, however, are more subtle and open-ended. I want to inspire personal reflection-to invite thought and discussion in a comfortable environment, stimulating the visual sense as a gateway to the spiritual sense resulting from an engaging visual experience.

My decision to deal with Christian subject matter in the genre of landscape, rather than with traditional figurative paintings, creates a metaphorical visual language in order to speak to a larger, more diverse audience. Many modern viewers can easily relate to the landscape because they see some form of it regularly, while they may not feel a connection with traditional robed and halo-ed figures from biblical times. Instead of using iconic representation and symbolism, I seek to create a visual metaphor by portraying a spiritual quality in an intimate sense of space and by connecting it to a title hinting at the message of Christ, often through a cited biblical passage. A visual metaphor does not directly illustrate or embody an idea, but rather makes meaning by connotation, creating images that can be seen to parallel the message of salvation through Jesus, for a new understanding of that message. My paintings simply want to say, "Hey, come look at Jesus this way," and leave it up to the viewer to take a look for themselves and respond as they will. They can decide to simply enjoy the landscape at face value, or can explore any cited (or un-cited) biblical passages, do some searching, and engage with the art and its meaning on a more personal level. The experience can continue as the viewer returns to everyday life, and may consciously or unconsciously recognize and remember the visual motifs from my paintings and have the opportunity to reflect more on the basic belief of Christianity-two subjects now intimately tied to each other by my artwork.