“Tranfiguration” by Taryn Watkins

Taryn’s reflection on the painting:

I have been thinking about the relationship between suffering and beauty for a long time. I have had these experiences of beauty that were so profound it was painful… even something very simple…a plain little flower overlooked a hundred times now becomes an arrow piercing my soul. I asked myself, why is that? How is that? At first I thought maybe it was because the beauty was transitory, impermanent, and only made the desire for Beauty even greater. Which I think is true, but not the whole of it. Then I began to think that maybe there was something deeper linking these seemingly incongruent things, suffering, pain, and beauty.

This experience can flow the other way as well, an experience of suffering so intense, and then suddenly, surprisingly transformed into a consolation, but not without losing what was painful in the experience…. how mysterious. Looking to scripture I could see this experience in the heart of Mary over and over again, especially in the Presentation. A moment of revelation, fulfillment of expectation…and a sword in her soul. But most pointedly I see it in the Transfiguration of our Lord. Here is the greatest light shed on the glory and beauty of the Lord…the closest human eyes have come to seeing the veil pulled back on the light of the mystery of Christ…yet he speaks with Moses and Elijah of the exodus he is to accomplish in Jerusalem, the Paschal sacrifice on the cross. And at the cross is the moment but only of suffering incomparable with any other suffering, but also the moment of union, of self gift to his spouse, the church, pouring himself out in the water and blood as he is pierced in the side. This meeting point of beauty and suffering is Love and union. Why does love look like the cross? This is a mystery.

In this icon I wanted to show the relationship between the cross and the Transfiguration. Here we see Jesus, pierced for love of his bride, and on his left and right Moses and Elijah. This is in the same moment, united in love rather than time and space, of the Paschal sacrifice and the Transfiguration, the union of beauty and suffering.

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