Glory of the Gates

Erin Layton is an OOC-expatriate living in New York. She recently sent an email with her observations on The Gates Project there. She writes (posted with permission):

I saw the Gates on Sunday afternoon, the last day of the exhibition. Makoto Fujimara, a painter and writer at Village Church, spoke briefly about the impact of such an exhibit for Christians, especially Christians in the arts. He encouraged us to experience the Gates on our own because he likened the exhibit to kingdom glory. He showed slides of the orange fabric that spread like a sleeping serpent through Central Park. The infinite nature of the Gates, he said, should encourage us involved in the arts to bring glory to God through our gifts. Look at how much glory this has brought to the city, he said, why shouldn’t we strive for the same purpose in our individual pursuits?

This word glory meant little to me, in terms of art, until I witnessed the Gates on my own. I think I have lost some understanding of what it means to truly glorify God through art. I don’t know the spiritual beliefs of the artists who put this piece together and I honestly had not read much on their vision/purpose of such work. When I walked up the stairs from 59th Street and Colombus Circle Subway station I gazed upward to a sea of orange enveloping New York City. Since this was the last day for the exhibit it had attracted the largest crowd I had seen in New York. The strange thing was the entire park fell silent under the spell of the color. People touched the fabric as they walked by with a certain respect as if they were touching the cloak of a great king or prophet. Even though it as a bitter cold afternoon the Gates lent a warmth that comforted our souls. We weren’t trying to get somewhere fast. We all walked with the same slow pace. I noticed people standing in the middle of the park with tears streaming down their faces as they gazed upon the expanse of orange. I can’t tell you why the gates were so moving. I felt as though the people who attended were embracing their dead, each gate representing the souls of those who perished. Maybe it was a memorial for the Tsunami disaster, again each of the gates a tribute to the orphaned children, the families who perished together, the mothers, the fathers. Or maybe it was the safety that we felt as a brotherhood, sisterhood walking into a sublime protection from the outside world. For whatever reason we felt moved by these pillars of hanging orange fabric whether it be personal or universal, it united the city. This city so full of glory and sadness was represented by a single motif repeated over and over all across metropolitan New York. Truly glorious.

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