Human societies have long combined artistic expression with the practice of religion. Think of the iconography of the Catholic church or the geometrical and decorative art of Islam.
Dr. Michelle Rebidoux, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, completed an undergraduate degree in fine art before embarking on studies in the philosophy of religion, the history of Christianity and religious ethics.
She first came to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2008. Soon after her arrival, she developed a craving to explore painting again, most specifically themes from religious studies.
Since then she has painting large scale canvases featuring gods and goddesses and stories from different religions.
But she wasn’t satisfied. She yearned to do something “huge.”
St. Mark’s Anglican Church
Dr. Rebidoux also teaches at Queen’s College where Rector Rob Cooke, of St. Mark’s Anglican Church, is a colleague. Visiting his church for the first time during the annual Queen’s College Appeal (a fundraising drive), she noticed the large, bare panels behind the altar.
“I suggested to Rob that I paint something . . . it all just sort of happened.”
The massive paintings — 13 feet high by five feet wide — Dr. Rebidoux eventually painted in situ during teaching breaks over the past two years symbolize the four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each are represented by their traditional symbols of the man, the lion, the ox and the eagle, which have appeared in Christian writing since the second century.
Dr. Rebidoux also incorporated visual elements that evoke the natural scenery of Newfoundland and Labrador, including coastlines, mountains, rolling fields and the sun.
‘Proud and delighted’
Scaffolding was required for Dr. Rebidoux to take on the task.
Watch the quick video below to hear the nickname Dr. Rebidoux earned while she worked.
Rector Cooke says the congregation is proud and delighted with Dr. Rebidoux’s work, which fits into a larger strategy for the church.
“We are trying to re-establish connections between the art and faith, the arts community and the church,” he said.
“We believe we are made in the image of a creative God and that creativity has seeped into every human being. We seek to provide ways for that creativity to be shared in community, whether it’s painting, music and singing, or quilt making.”