Responding to Proverbs 24 and the metaphor of the home, artist Stephanie Barenz explores the story of wisdom within her work.
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3 Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established: 4 And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
6 For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.
7 Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate. 8 He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person. 9 The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.
11 If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; 12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it ? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it ? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
13 My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste: 14 So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it , then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.
15 Lay not wait, O wicked man , against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place: 16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: 18 Lest the LORD see it , and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.
19 Fret not thyself because of evil men , neither be thou envious at the wicked; 20 For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.
21 My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change: 22 For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both?
23 These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment. 24 He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him: 25 But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.
27 Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.
28 Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; and deceive not with thy lips. 29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.
32 Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.
34 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.
This painting is completed on a 12″x16″ wood panel with acrylics, ink, and pencil. I began by laying down a drawing in pencil and working back into it with a neutral palette of acrylics. I used water to dilute the paint to the point where it worked more like watercolor rather than acrylic. The pencil is laid on top of the acrylics, in order to bring out various details. As you can see, my process is a merging of drafting, drawing, and painting. The piece was then sprayed with an archival, kamar varnish in order to seal it.
I chose Proverbs 24 as a catalyst for this mixed-media painting. I loved what verses 3 and 4 had to say, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”
I built the narrative of my painting around these verses. The image I worked from is of a neighborhood in Milwaukee, which is where I currently live and have my home. The extension lines that are coming off of the houses, highlight Proverbs 24’s message of applying the wisdom that is grown at home to the communities that we are a part of. As the chapter outlines our home is where our characters are formed.
Our characters will either have a positive or negative impact on our communities. As Proverbs 24:28-29 states, “Do not testify against your neighbor without cause— would you use your lips to mislead? Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did.” This is the wisdom that I want to fill the rooms of my home with. It is my belief that this kind of wisdom will help to form more vibrant and healthy shared collective spaces. I am grateful for the opportunity to have created a painting for Spark and Echo Arts that will forever remind me of this message.
Stephanie Barenz is an artist who makes mixed media work about place, sojourning, and storytelling. She received her MFA in Visual Arts from the Samfox School of Art of Design at Washington University in St. Louis and her B.A. in Art from Bethany Lutheran College in Minnesota. Her work is informed by her own experiences with sojourning which have included living abroad in Florence, Italy and Hangzhou, China. She grew up in Texas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin and has enjoyed living in several other midwestern cities. She currently lives with her husband, Zach, in Milwaukee, WI.
Barenz has completed artist residencies through the Students Artist League of New York, the Pfister Hotel AiR program in Milwaukee, and at the Chicago Printmakers’ Collaborative. Her work has been acquired by notable public collectors, such as Northwestern Mutual and Alverno College and has private collectors across the United States and in Europe. Her paintings have been exhibited at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Museum of Wisconsin Art, Dean Jensen Gallery, the John Michael Kohler Art Center, Expo 72 in Chicago, and more.
Barenz’s work has been featured in The Artist’s Magazine, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, MPTV, Milwaukee Magazine, the Huffington Post, among others. Learn more by visiting her website www.stephaniebarenz.com