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Spring 2008 | Volume 31, Number 1 | Features

Response Art Work

Pink Emperors

The Advent of Breathing

Oil on Canvas
36” x 48”

Christen Mattix
SPU Assistant Professor of Art

“All my paintings are about desire,” says
Christen Mattix, assistant professor of art at Seattle Pacific University. “At times they’re about one’s longing in exile, and, at other times, a joyful opening to the Beloved.”

And sometimes they capture both feelings. Take, for instance, her painting, “The Advent of Breathing,” part of the Hope: Open/Closed exhibit mounted by the SPU art faculty for the Day of Common Learning. In the piece, cream-colored drapes open to reveal the endless blue of sea and sky — an invocation of the eternal. But the scene also involves separation.

“The viewer is contained in a human space behind a window, looking out into the infinite horizon,” explains Mattix. “It’s about the rediscovery of God’s presence,
like coming upon a forgotten view.”

It’s also an indirect response to a Matthew Arnold poem titled “The Sea of Faith.” “His metaphor for God is the tide going out, leaving us,” she says. “But for me, the sea is swelling; the waves are moving closer to us.”

Mattix tries to help students make connections between their faith and their art, but in ways that are natural and not forced. For her, those connections involve the use of recognizable things –– such as window panes and water –– which she hopes will give viewers something to ponder.

She likens her approach to the way Jesus told parables. “In his stories, Jesus provided the starting point for contemplation,” she notes. “That’s what I want to do:
create ‘breathing spaces’ that give viewers opportunities to add their own stories to the painting.”

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Department Highlights

from the president
President Philip Eaton reminds us that God's promise to “do something new” creates and sustains our hope.

New Leadership
The School of Theology welcomes Doug Strong, Ph.D., as its new dean.

Detours and Unexpected Destinations
Samuel Lin ’65 was named SPU Alumnus of the Year for a lifetime of service.

Oh, So Close
Falcon women’s soccer had 23 straight wins in 2007–08 season; was in Final Four.

my response
Poetry by Emily Dickinson
SPU Professor Susan VanZanten Gallagher on Emily Dickinson’s Poem #314 and “Hope.”

Response art
The Advent of Breathing
SPU Professor Christen Mattix on “The Advent of Breathing.”