David Linn, ‘The Ascent’, 1993, oil on canvas; Museum of Church History and Art.
Another installment in the series, in which David Linn’s award-winning painting ‘The Ascent’ is considered.
At first glance the message is clear and important, as Linn writes of the piece: “Living the gospel demands that we help one another climb upward out of the darkness of the world into the light of truth.” In addition it might also suggest that focussing upon the people around us rather than ourself is the only way to finally ascend.
Yet, I believe there is a notable absence from this painting that is as important as what is represented. Where is the divine in this image? Perhaps the cascading light is sufficient imagery and yet I sense that this painting challenges me to turn toward others in my ascent rather than God. It might be easier for me to turn toward an omnipotent and omniscient God for help when I am in need rather than to turn to a person who is only a step above, or even below, me. It is hard to trust them to lift or push as I struggle to climb.
The divinity in this image is in process, emerging from those who are, as Linn writes, helping each other ascend.