Using contemporary, visual language as a way to tell the story of divine providence through biblical references to trees, these paintings are part of a body of work called Trees of the Book. Trees are mentioned often in scripture and I was intrigued and challenged to look at them metaphorically, illustratively, and tangibly.

Golden Tabernacle trees (1 Kings 6:32)

Living primarily in cities, we forget that there was a time when trees held a more significant role in our existence. We still rely on trees. Trees supply food, mark seasons, clean the air, provide oxygen, cool streets and cities, and help prevent water pollution and soil erosion. Studies have shown that
the presence of trees can reduce violence.

Trees are such powerful visual images of growth, decay, and resurrection that most cultures have endowed them with symbolic meaning and otherworldly significance.

My love for trees remains a persistent presence in my work that has evolved from studies and true representation to flourishes and subtle illusions of trees. Relying on the fragile and mysterious relationship between water and pigment, the process itself requires patient manipulation.

As the water evaporates, the inks and pigments form into curious and detailed shapes. Trees of the Book retells the narrative of salvation through fifty-two paintings accompanied by written responses from writers, theologians, clergy, scientists, activists, and educators with the intention of publishing a book. The paintings seek to encourage prayerful meditation on God’s providence, while the textual components provide complementary interpretations of these passages.

-Petra Zantingh