Alec M. Smith

Church of the Holy Redeemer

The two full figures to the upper right and left of the altar depict angels just about to land on the ledges of the spaces in which they are painted. Each looks toward the hanging crucifix, one foot just touching the ledge and one hand about to grasp the wall.


The hand gestures of both angels symbolize the connection between the congregation and the image of Christ on the cross.


The outside hand is reaching toward the congregation while the inside hand is reaching toward the crucifix.


Underlying these features, the overall gesture of the angels is intended to create a sense of rotation around the altar and cross. The right angel is leaning in toward the congregation while the left angel is leaning back. Combined with the circularity of the dome, my intent was to avoid any sense of a static image.

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The Four Evangelists, painted near the top of the wings to the right and left of the nave, are designed to describe a multidimensional narrative about the contributions the followers of Jesus made during the period in history in which they lived. The paintings are designed to provoke thought about the early church and the tidal shifts in culture that were happening at the time. Through reading the Gospels I tried to glean a sense of who these people were in order to communicate, through these paintings, that these were real people. I wanted to shed light on an early church whose followers took great risks to spread ideas that, even today, have yet to be fully adopted in society. By painting three of the Evangelists as young, or in their mid thirties, I wanted to symbolize the vitality and energy required to make such sacrifices. The individuals also symbolize a young church, as well as ideas that are still coming of age. Nevertheless, there is great wisdom and sophistication in these ideas. That is why I painted one Evangelist, Luke, as older, mature and wise.


The identities of the Evangelists are subtly characterized by the symbols that have historically represented them in literature. Matthew is the angel. His features are soft and he is backlit by a divine glow.


Mark is the lion. His hair is long and mane-like. He holds a book symbolizing him as scholarly but also as a possible source for the other gospels.


Luke is the ox. His face is broad and ox-like. He is shown sometimes as an artist, and sometimes as a physician. That is why in this portrait, he is depicted holding brushes in his right hand and an asclepian brooch clasps his garment.


John is the eagle. His features and posture are modeled after the eagle and he holds his hands in a talon-like gesture.

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