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Imago Dei

Featured Artist: Virginia Linzee

(( click image to enlarge ))

I see identity placement at the intersection of peace and justice, so when SSU invited me to share some of my recent artwork, it was interesting to see a conflict with my own identity as an artist arise. Does what I have to show currently represent me as an artist? Should that even matter? The egotistical part of me wants to show something deeply conceptual that is absolutely tied to issues of peace and justice that I care about---works I have created in the past or hope to in the future. What I have to show currently are commissioned portraits that beautiful, wealthy people paid me to paint. And yet, here in my reticence is exposed my own narrow judgment, ego, and truthfully missing the mark with my actual identity as an artist and hopeful peacemaker…one that truly enjoys seeing people and introducing them to others. How we get in the way of ourselves!       

These commissioned portraits do not spring from conceptualized ideas of peace or justice which the ego part of me wants to present as an artist concerned with them, but perhaps they spring from something more pure: simple service. I was asked to see a person and to paint what I saw for others to see. I had the privilege and tremendous responsibility of using my body to allow someone else to be known. Though part of me wants to show you a painting that represents me as an artist, what I have to show instead is what represents someone else as a human. Ironically, despite my ego, that is exactly the kind of artist I hope to be. As I see it, whether it is in a painting or real life, there is nothing more important vital to the Kingdom of God’s shalom than for people to be fully themselves in their Imago Dei. Sometimes it takes others seeing the beauty in us to accept it in ourselves. As a human, a hopeful peacemaker, and an artist, I love presenting people to the beauty I see in them and then showing off their beauty to others. I just love people and truly believe they are beautiful. I could burst thinking about the beauty of people.       

So here are three recent portraits of Emilia, Symone, and Grace, three beautiful humans that I was blessed to get to spend so much time with in my little studio. These three beauties received portraits, but I was the one who was truly blessed to be able to paint them. When you paint a portrait, you really have to be with a person. It is incredibly intimate. You spend months learning and getting to know every intricate detail of their faces, their hands, and if you are successful, you find their spirit. I have found that the easiest and most pleasurable subjects for me to paint are the people that know themselves, and even if they are trying to project something else, catching them in an off guard moment that is truly who they are. That moment is critical if the painting is to be successful. If you find it, you fall in love with the person even more. It is a silent bond that only the painter knows in her solitude. A deep appreciation for a person is so grounding. It is so real. It brings peace to my own soul, and in turn hopefully is given back to the person I am trying to see. To know and to be known is critical to peace and justice. If we were all seen, known, and realized in all of our beauty, maybe there would be less conflict in the world, and more dancing.


About: Virginia Linzee

After a twenty year career as a Makeup Artist in New York City, Virginia Linzee quit her job to pursue full time peace building. She is an alumna of the JFI program and is currently a Peace and Justice Master’s degree student at St. Stephen's University on the Inner Transformation Track because she believes the inner transformation is where she must begin if she is to be a successful peacemaker. An activist in conflict zones where her culture has told her enemies dwell, she has found inspiring friends to learn from. She has no intention of stopping the pursuit of beauty in spaces that the world says are ugly. For Virginia, the greatest beauty to be found is in the contrast of where the light and dark touch. Currently living in Stony Brook, New York, she hopes for opportunities to pursue, experience, and present the diverse beauty of the world back to itself.


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