"Turn around now while I kiss it goodbye."
Laura James was in the vestry of Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, where she was delivering a new painting, Creation, the latest addition to our sacred art collection. She had just inscribed it on the back side.
"I grow so close to these pieces, because I spend so much time with them," she explained. "That's why I like to kiss them goodbye."
James, who lives and works in the Bronx, is the nearest we have to a resident artist. A church task force, appointed to acquire a new work by an African or African American artist, "discovered" James in 2016. Her painting, Sermon on the Mount, is now one of the diverse representations of Jesus that hang on the Chapel walls.
In 2017, the Arts & Our Faith Committee sponsored an exhibit of James' work, SELAH: Paintings by Laura James, in the Chesnut Gallery. Creation was part of that exhibit. Congregation member Sheila E. Greene commissioned James to produce a second version specifically for the church. The painting is a gift from Greene in memory of her friend, Barbara Swarthout, a longtime member of the church who died in 2016.
Visible from the Gallery, Creation is on view in the stairway connecting the main floor of the Curry Church House with the LaDane Williamson Christian Education Center.
- July 28 2017 • I Like to Paint Stories: An Afternoon with Laura James
- September 22 2016 • In Kirkland Chapel, Another Image of Jesus