This rich painting and its accompanying poem of the same title both examine the relationship of Moses as an intermediary between God and the Israelites from Deuteronomy 5:6-22.
ShAy Black, Moses and The Commandments (Detail 1)
ShAy Black, Moses and The Commandments (Detail 2)
Read the accompanying poem of the same name: “Moses and The Commandments”
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6 ¶ I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 7 Thou shalt have none other gods before me. 8 Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: 9 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, 10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments. 11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. 12 Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. 13 Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: 14 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. 15 And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
16 ¶ Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. 17 Thou shalt not kill. 18 Neither shalt thou commit adultery. 19 Neither shalt thou steal. 20 Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour. 21 Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
22 ¶ These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.
How does one use paint to artistically talk about the ten commandments? Great question. The answer is: by starting off intuitively with pure mark-making, adding mixed media and acrylic paint using a lot of light and darkness. “Moses and The Commandments” explores the relationship between God, Moses and the Israelites. The background is a mixture of red, blue, black and gold signifying the appearance of the wilderness. Moses, painted larger than life, assumes the role of himself as the physical representation of the Israelites. Moses told his people: “The Lord gave us these commands and only these” (Deuteronomy 5:22). He embodies all that is good from God; his honor indicated in the painting by a slight tilting of his head which also corresponds to him looking over his people. I wanted the shimmering of rays to personify God’s presence speaking from the dark, fiery clouds. I created the tablets out of gold paper — translating what was spoken from God and written on the stone tablets. The Ten Commandments are the golden rules for living; by which we demonstrate our love for God and others.
My mother instilled in us love, compassion and selfless service. The biggest lesson I remember her saying was: “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.” She truly had a love for people. A woman after God’s own heart. I am learning to be as gentle as her by continuing to carry Moses’ torch, adhering as closely as possible to God’s commandments. These simple orders of instruction are used to maintain peace and harmony among people. The image of Moses in this painting remembers his obedience and sacrifice to be used by God. He is a constant reminder of how much sacrifice he endured for his people in the wilderness. His obedience shows through his eyes: the desire to love and be loved by God.
Sharon Black (also known as ShAy Black) is a poet, visual and spoken word artist. She creates her work from her home studio, ShAy Black Expressions of Everything Art LLC, in Greenville, South Carolina.
After returning home from deployment in 2004, she decided to pursue her passion in all art forms. She specializes in mixed media, abstract and pictorial paintings, utilizing acrylic, and watercolor. ShAy also creates metal and clay sculptures. She received her Bachelor of Fine Art from Converse College. Her work is on display at her website, www.iamshayblack.com.
She has been a part of two poetry slam teams “Say What” in Greenville, SC 2019 and Team Injustice in Spartanburg, SC 2018. She has featured her poetry at Wits End Poetry in Greenville, SC, Blues Boulevard in Spartanburg, SC, Poetry in Hiphop in Greenville, SC, Blue Note Poetry in Columbia, SC, and Bless The Mic, in Columbia, SC. Her art has been displayed at Reys, Spartanburg Library, Converse College Milligan Art Gallery, Greenville Technical College, Artistry Gallery, Metropolitan Arts Council and The Art House art walk. She also won a Wits End Poetry end of the month Slam 2019.
ShAy writes and paints with the aim to inspire others to become their own inspiration, like herself, who manages loss, depression, and anxiety with her art. Her poetry and paintings symbolize the beauty of life’s imperfections, self-love and the magic of undying hope.