Artist Phyllis Thomas' piece responds to the theme “Harvest” from Ruth 2:20.
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20 And Na-o´mi said unto her daughter-in-law, Blessed be he of the Lord, who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead. And Na-o´mi said unto her, The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen.
The Bible is an agrarian world from the Old Testament to the New. There are two dozen references of sowing, reaping, seed-time and harvest which mark the natural rhythm of the calendar. Growing up on a farm, I know the plenty of harvest and leanness of drought. That experience gives me some insight to the short story of Ruth that embodies a harvest theme. It is a love story and redemptive narrative with a turning point in chapter 2 when Ruth returns with an ephah** of grain to give to her mother-in-law, Naomi. It includes other contrasting themes; distress versus hope, emptiness versus fullness and poverty versus prosperity.
Because there are so many contrasts, I settled on a simplified image of color and contrast enhanced by gold threads which become a musical instrument for accompaniment to a song of praise I believe Naomi and Ruth would have sung at this crucial point in the story. God’s extravagant provision through Boaz’s kindness reveals compassion for the poor and hope for redemption to this mother-in-law and loyal daughter-in-law and that is a psalm of joy to me.
Ruth, chapter 2
* Psalter, Gr. psalterion, a harp
** Hebrew unit of dry measure; about 5 gallons
Phyllis Thomas’ art career began as an art educator immediately after completing a degree in Secondary Art Education from Manchester University, North Manchester Indiana. After teaching and marriage, she changed directions and continents and joined her husband as a missionary to Kenya, East Africa where she and her family resided for nearly two decades. That journey enriched her life and still influences the colors and textures of her work.
Thomas returned with her family to the USA in 1997 and has spent the last 16 years in an ongoing journey re-inventing her work as a painter and re-acquainting herself with the art community. As a former educator, she makes research and reflection primary to her contemporary water-media process and occasionally uses thread, gold and silver leaf as enhancement and added texture. The artist has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally in solo, juried and community shows, including Manchester University, N. Manchester IN; Cairn University, Langhorne, PA and White Stone Gallery, Philadelphia PA.
Phyllis’ art-making is not only about the art; it’s the people she meets along the way. Now residing in Florida with her husband, she has organized local community art events and workshops in Orlando, Grunewald Guild in Leavenworth WA, as well as Uganda and Kenya, East Africa and is passionate about helping artists of the next generation find their creative calling. Photo by Studio T.