Based off of my readings in Revelation and in Job, I've always been fascinated with the terrible imagery behind God’s power. Yet, gently laying in the centre of imagery like fire, smoke, grand scales, animals with multiples eyes and wings, is God’s heart -- more vast and great than the universe...endless in beauty and peace and goodness.
Residence Elias Popa presents his project proposal for his project responding largely to Job 38-41 in his first post as a 2018 Artist in Residence.
Project Curated By
The Lord Convinces Job of Ignorance
1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding.
5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who hath stretched the line upon it?
6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof;
7 when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
8 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?
9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling band for it,
10 and brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors,
11 and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?
12 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;
13 that it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?
14 It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment.
15 And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm shall be broken.
16 Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? Or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?
17 Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? Or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?
18 Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? Declare if thou knowest it all.
19 Where is the way where light dwelleth? And as for darkness, where is the place thereof,
20 that thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?
21 Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great?
22 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? Or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,
23 which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?
24 By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?
Job 38:29–41: 34
29 Out of whose womb came the ice? And the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?
30 The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.
31 Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Plei´ades, or loose the bands of Ori´on?
32 Canst thou bring forth Maz´zaroth in his season? Or canst thou guide Arctu´rus with his sons?
33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? Canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?
34 Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?
35 Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are?
36 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? Or who hath given understanding to the heart?
37 Who can number the clouds in wisdom? Or who can stay the bottles of heaven,
38 when the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together?
39 Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions,
40 when they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait?
41 Who provideth for the raven his food? When his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.
1 Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? Or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve?
2 Canst thou number the months that they fulfil? Or knowest thou the time when they bring forth?
3 They bow themselves, they bring forth their young ones, they cast out their sorrows.
4 Their young ones are in good liking, they grow up with corn; they go forth, and return not unto them.
5 Who hath sent out the wild ass free? Or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?
6 whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings.
7 He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver.
8 The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing.
9 Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?
10 Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? Or will he harrow the valleys after thee?
11 Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? Or wilt thou leave thy labor to him?
12 Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn?
13 Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich?
14 which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in the dust,
15 and forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them.
16 She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers: her labor is in vain without fear;
17 because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he imparted to her understanding.
18 What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider.
19 Hast thou given the horse strength? Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?
20 Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? The glory of his nostrils is terrible.
21 He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men.
22 He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword.
23 The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield.
24 He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet.
25 He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha! And he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
26 Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south?
27 Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?
28 She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place.
29 From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off.
30 Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is she.
1 Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said,
2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? He that reproveth God, let him answer it.
3 Then Job answered the Lord, and said,
4 Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.
5 Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.
The Manifestations of God's Power
6 Then answered the Lord unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
7 Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
8 Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? Wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?
9 Hast thou an arm like God? Or canst thou thunder with a voice like him?
10 Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty.
11 Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him.
12 Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place.
13 Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret.
14 Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee.
15 Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.
16 Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.
17 He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.
18 His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron.
19 He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him.
20 Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play.
21 He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens.
22 The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about.
23 Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth.
24 He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.
1 Canst thou draw out leviathan with a hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?
2 Canst thou put a hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn?
3 Will he make many supplications unto thee? Will he speak soft words unto thee?
4 Will he make a covenant with thee? Wilt thou take him for a servant for ever?
5 Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? Or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?
6 Shall the companions make a banquet of him? Shall they part him among the merchants?
7 Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears?
8 Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more.
9 Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him?
10 None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me?
11 Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.
12 I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion.
13 Who can discover the face of his garment? Or who can come to him with his double bridle?
14 Who can open the doors of his face? His teeth are terrible round about.
15 His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal.
16 One is so near to another, that no air can come between them.
17 They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered.
18 By his sneezings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.
19 Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out.
20 Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron.
21 His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.
22 In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him.
23 The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved.
24 His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone.
25 When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves.
26 The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon.
27 He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood.
28 The arrow cannot make him flee: sling stones are turned with him into stubble.
29 Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear.
30 Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire.
31 He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.
32 He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary.
33 Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.
34 He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.
I think we are all familiar with the plight of Job and God's terrifying responding questions of Job's understanding. For me, this passage provides such a revealing of God's mystery. When reading those scriptures, I always feel like God lets us in on a small fraction of his complex and labyrinth-like heart. It's uncomfortably narrow and sometimes violent. Wild. Frightening. Claustrophobic. But as we follow through this squeezing, we resign to the terrible holiness of God. That done, we find that upon passing through these narrow passages, God leads us to the Centre of His heart which is wider, more encompassing and peaceful than the entire universe. It is by passing through this 'tightness of fitting' that our perspective of the world changes to one of radical sameness. Although nothing has changed in that we are still very much in our current circumstances, the world is made new -- revealed as filled with unceasing opportunities.
Elias Popa was born April 7, 1987 to Romanian immigrants in California. After traveling between his home in Romania and throughout the United States, he continued his travels into his adulthood by moving to China, traveling Southeast Asia, South America and working with refugees. During his travels around the world, his worldview in art was deeply impacted.
“My art expresses the struggle of identity and hope, worship and expressions of life. It explores common world views and challenges them. My work shines a light on the temporal solutions we put in place to replace what we really need deep inside”.
As an installation artist, Elias uses conventional materials such as paper, wire, thread, and clothing to evoke a deeper understanding about social structures. His aim is to solidify abstract ideas about the nuances that make up sociological structures. By doing so, he retrains the eye to build a visual literacy again and treats the art as a fundamental language. He also studied dark room photography for 10 years, as well as writes poetry.
Through his art, Elias started The Human Rights Network, a non for profit organisation aimed at “telling stories that change lives”. The organisation aims to build narratives through art that can impact social issues and generate activism. He currently works as a curator and manager of the esteemed Waterfall Mansion and Gallery on the Upper East Side, as well as the founder of the Human Rights Network. He resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where he works out of his home. He was the recipient of CFW’s artist vocational intensive, held at Princeton University. He also was selected on an Interfaith and Arts Panel at Columbia University, as well as regular participates in speaking engagements.