"Contrasts: Suffering and Hope"

by Robyn Sand Anderson
Center for Faith and Life
October 28 - December 9, 2011

Robyn Sand Anderson

Robyn Sand Anderson LC ’79 is a Decorah native who taught high school art for four years and has worked as a professional artist for about thirty years, specializing in transparent watercolor and acrylic. She takes commissions from individuals, businesses and churches, and teaches watercolor workshops, including retreats that are a mix of watercolor lessons and spiritual reflection. Sand Anderson wants to use her work to invite people to think, to feel, and to bring attention to the miracle of the ordinary.

For more information about Robyn Sand Anderson and her work, please visit her personal website.

Artist's Statement

“Why art? I didn’t know that I would become an artist when I started at Luther in 1975.  What I figured out through taking many and various classes, is that when I was in the art building (Loyalty Hall at that time) I was happy.  When I was creating, I was happy. When I was painting, had my head in the colors, so to speak, I was happiest. So I leaned in that direction.  Sometimes finding your vocation is leaning into your passion, and trusting that God will lead you through the gifts you have been given. Frederic Buechner, theologian, said, ‘The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.’ What I have discovered through these many years is that whether I am painting Dunning’s Spring, a flower, or a theological interpretation of scripture, it points to the Creator of all things. When people are moved or engaged while viewing my work, I feel that I am in the right place.

“Choosing the life of an artist isn’t necessarily an easy path. My son pointed out when I was lamenting that my income was not very substantial . . . ‘but you are doing what you love.’  True. What a privilege it is, really, to do what you love. I was recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune condition that can potentially cripple your joints and causes weakness and fatigue.  It has forced me to reassess my direction as an artist. With daily pain and limited stamina, what do I want to create? When I peel away the many avenues I could take artistically, I am left with a deep desire to paint about relationships; our relationship to God, to each other, to creation.  The good, the bad and the ugly. What does it mean to be human and in relationship with God? How do we deal with human suffering? That will keep me busy for a while. For me, that is enough.”

Contrasts: Suffering & Hope

"Luther's Sesquicentennial theme 'Transformed By The Journey' turned out to be very appropriate for me, on a personal level. In January of 2008, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I did not know that this was a disease of great suffering. RA causes crippling, distorting the joints and attacking connective tissues, organs, and nerves. It also causes great fatigue and aching, weak muscles. After a year of treatment I felt some relief from the constant pain and weakness. I started to feel well enough to do some painting, though for a period of time, I thought I was going to have to give it up. As I gained strength and stamina, the simple act of dipping the paintbrush into that beautiful color and slapping it on paper became a gift. The show begins with Diagnosis, my visual response to the fear I had of becoming crippled, of being in constant pain the rest of my life, of not being able to paint. All but one piece in this body of work has been accomplished this year and I am thankful for Luther’s invitation to exhibit. It is about my journey of slogging through suffering, of finding hope. 

I am new to acrylic, having been a watercolor artist for most of my career. As I work now, I find that painting in the abstract more freely expresses my experience, my wrestling, my questions. It speaks where words don't suffice or can't be found. I've been really aware of contrasts lately. In art, we use contrasts to bring attention to a certain area. Contrasts allow us to see things clearly. Having suffered, and having some relief from that suffering has allowed me to see things more clearly

. . . about my relationship to God, my relationship to others, my relationship to life on this planet. I have been doing a lot of reading on suffering, lament and hope and have included some quotes from different sources that either inspired the work or deepened the work for me afterward. You will find them printed and placed on the table next to this exhibit. Please return them there for others when you are finished. I believe visual art, together with words, is powerful. Now, if I only had some music playing . . ."

-Robyn Sand Anderson

2011-2012 Robyn Sand Anderson