Location: Asheville, North Carolina
Featured Work: In The House of My Pilgrimage
Source: 2017-2018 CIVA Sourcebook
From curator Michelle Westmark Wingard.
An honorable mention goes to the beautiful texture and layered meaning of Grace Bomer’s painting.
Describe your featured work.
This large painting is a metaphor of the biblical narrative that is the grace of God. Robed white figures reference our holy calling as priests in the house of God — “In the House of My Pilgrimage” -– a 40-year wilderness journey designated by forty hash marks near the bottom. These marks represent the “tribulation” of our time of suffering on this earth. Covered ones offer prayers as living sacrifices. The small amount of gold leaf added over the red at the top suggests this holy pilgrimage as well as the smoky incense of offered prayers. This metaphor of grace and pilgrimage and priests only developed as I covered and layered color, shape, texture, and random (and not so random) marks. I use oils and cold wax medium, applying them with a large flexible scraper. I work towards simplification and suggestion to create a unified composition where form and content meet and make invisible realities visible. My work is a process often as mysterious as my life of pilgrimage.
“He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.” — Deuteronomy 2:7
Asheville artist Grace Carol Bomer is an abstract expressionist painter. Her concern is the human condition surprised by the grace of God. She attempts to combine abstraction and realism in her paintings because they represent a world that is visible and invisible — both real. She includes images and text in her work to create metaphors that point to the God who became an image/man and who is called The Word of God. This spiritual reality happened at the Incarnation of Jesus, who makes visible the invisible. He not only holds all reality together but he gives “eyes to see” this seeming dichotomy in artistic imaginative work. Bomer’s desire is to show forth the mystery of this everlasting story of grace.
What are you making now?
Recently I was surprised by a “gift of gold.” A stranger found me on Asheville’s River Arts website. She was looking for someone to “gift” her father’s gilders supplies. Two old wooden suitcases contained the tools of his trade, and all kinds of leaf –- 23-K, composition-gold (zinc and copper), silver and aluminum leaf. I learned the craft of water-gilding and am layering my oil and wax and powdered pigments over all this glory. The gift was timely. I was about to begin a 60″ x 76″ commission — The Calling of the Twelve. I gilded a large figure of “The Fisherman” on a ground of silver which was partially hidden by layers of paint and wax. Another commission, “The Wedding Feast at Cana/Jesus’ First Miracle,” incorporated 23-K gold leaf in the last layer. And in “The Prodigal” I varnished the underlying composition with gold.
Why do you belong to CIVA?
I long to see art and aesthetics redeemed for the glory of God. I became a member long ago, after teaching for six years. Francis Schaeffer’s “How Should We Then Live?” (1976) and Calvin Seerveld’s “Rainbows for A Fallen World” (1980) were my text books for teaching sixth grade and high school art classes. Although Rookmaaker’s “Modern Art and the Death of a Culture” continued the Christian critique of culture, Seerveld’s chapter “Modern Art and the Birth of a Culture” pointed out how God’s people were to proceed in contemporary culture. I respected his emphasis on the foundational Word of God necessary for Christian aesthetics. To know there is a group of artists who bear the name of Christ was and continues to be an encouragement and an inspiration to me — learning to live an obedient aesthetic life in a world needing “rainbows.”
Grace Carol Bomer is a native of Alberta, Canada. She graduated from Dordt College as a Secondary Education / English Major. Even before her liberal arts education, she realized her calling as an artist. After teaching six years, she began her career as an artist. She studied art at UNC Asheville, in Europe, and taught in China.
Her work has won several awards and is included in many corporate and private collections in the U.S. Currently she has work in a Middle-Eastern country and on the educational mural of Park Avenue Synagogue in NYC.