Elias Popa, an installation artist, brings beauty to the broken spaces near his home in response to Acts 2:42-47:
Elias Popa, “The Art of Kintsugi and Sacrifices in Sidewalks"
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45 and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
In reading Acts chapter 2, I was particularly struck by the radical reaction the church had to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I spent days thinking over the implications of giving everything away for one another. To be solely dependent upon outside sources, while allowing others to be dependent on your own benevolence.
In fact, it reminded in part of the philosophy Wabi-Sabi, focusing on the idea of the temporal and imperfect being handled with beauty and restoration. In the art of Kintsugi, when an object is broken, it is not discarded. Rather it is repaired. The cracks of the object are filled in with Gold. This precious and beautiful material makes new and useful what was once broken and decommissioned, while also embracing the pain of the past. It is both redemptive and humbling.
How is the art of Kintsugi reflected in the community built in Acts? How can we build that same community today? What is a visual representation of this “Kintsugi” formed by Christ?
I decided to perform Kintsugi on the cracks in New York City. I used Gold, being that it is the most precious materials we know, reflecting the preciousness of blood. Filling in each crack in the sidewalk was a meditative experience. Each crack had a history. Each broken concrete slab was a story of New York City. Slowly, in a subtle and gentle way, the gold began to leak through and repair the brokenness. Each work was a prayer, gently asking for completion of a work that I never saw the start of, and may never see the end of, but still have a hand in pouring out what little gold I have to build the city. It is a beacon of radical self-sacrifice in a society that begs us to find inward meaning. It is allowing what is precious to me to be stepped on in an effort to bring beauty into the world.
I focused on the radius of my neighbourhood as a reminder that this work begins in the home. The work of Kintsugi begins in the brokenness of one’s own heart.
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 organization aimed at “telling stories that change lives.” The organization 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.