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Lead Thou Me On
|Title||Lead Thou Me On|
|Year of Publication||2021|
|Keywords||Iron Rod; Tree of Life|
Submitted to the 2021 Book of Mormon Central Art Contest.
As I've pondered the story and depictions of Lehi's dream and the iron rod, I felt inspired to make a painting that did not show our path of life as flat & easy, but as a challenging trial, as my own life has often seemed. For as I've grown up on that path with a hand on the rod, I discovered that knowing the way doesn't always make it easy.
In this painting, the rod symbolizes the teachings of God, which leads us back to eternal life with God (symbolized by the tree of life at the end of the path which is not shown, but the glow from the tree is reaching the girls).
At some point in our lives someone grasps our hand and places it on the rod as we learn and grow in the gospel. The path itself - at least for me and many people I know - is our life, and is rarely level or easy. Some people are tempted to hold on from the other side and try and balance on that uneven edge between what we know we should do and the excitement that comes from living life on the edge. But even with staying on the path and following the rod we will have challenges enough that will bring us to our knees often – back to God for strength and guidance (hence the torn dresses from all the times she stopped to pray) but the journey will strengthen us as we meet each obstacle and gain strength from the prior challenges.
While we travel on the path - even though we haven't mastered the climb ourselves - part of our responsibility is to look around for those who are trying to find their way. The mist of darkness is confusion and temptations that keep us away from the rod...The light of the tree of life is so near that it is casting onto her clothes and face, yet she still stops to reach out and help another. This could symbolize her role as being anything from a leader, missionary, friend, sister, parent or teacher to the other. And though there will be times that we feel alone in our journey, there is one who has already travelled each of our personal paths of life. Christ has done this, so he may comfort and strengthen us during our weakest times.
In looking for the right title for this painting which meant so much to me personally, I listened to conference with faith that I would be given one. Within minutes of General Conference beginning, the choir sang "Lead, Kindly Light". And as they sang the first two phrases, I knew I had my title... "Lead, kindly light, amid the encircling gloom, Lead thou me on; The night is dark, and I am far from home; Lead thou me on;"
This artist grew up in the Eastern US and attended art schools from a young age through college. But for all of those years she had only painted secular topics, feeling she was not talented enough to do justice to religious themes. In February of 2000, the artist had a severe case of Bells Palsy, and upon returning from the hospital, was given a blessing in which she was told that she needed to use her art to benefit the church. After much prayer and study, she began a series about women and ideals in the gospel with a goal of changing the perspective of stories so the viewer could see things with a new light... and perhaps not take these stories for granted. Each painting is prayerfully researched and inspired with the idea that the painter is only the vessel, and the painting the message that our Heavenly Father wishes to share.
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