Landscape artist Martha Kelly — who, totally coincidentally you understand, happens to be married to my brother — has for years been painting the trees, fields and sky of the Southern lowlands we both call home. Last fall, however, she began working on a series of oil-on-paper images which drew not only from the familiar natural world, but also from scripture.
I was struck by all the landscapes in the Bible last fall while driving over to the mountains, and especially by the landscapes that give us glimpses of the world as God intended it to be. I began to see the possibilities of these visions expressed in the landscapes around me and to paint them and pair them up with scriptures. In addition to the prophecies, I’m drawn to the Song of Solomon and its similar vision of abundance and God’s good creation.
The series includes both mountain landscapes, which invoke such Biblical imagery as the cedars of Lebanon and “the apple tree among the trees of the wood” of the Song of Songs, and seascapes painted at Ocracoke, off the North Carolina coast. All are beautiful, though I particularly love the stylized gestures of her trees and the drama she makes of the clouds. There’s a kind of allegorical quality to her images which lends itself especially well to a project like this, where the creations, like Creation itself, point to a larger text.
View the whole series here.