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First Pres Blog

The Art of Forgiveness

Posted by Matt Fox on

Edward Riojas, The Prodigal Son, Calvin College, Gift of Larry and Mary Gerbens

The Father and His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness

By now you've probably seen this painting hanging in the Narthex just outside the Sanctuary. It's the first piece in a collection, "The Father and His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness," that First Pres will be hosting from Friday, March 3 through Easter Sunday, April 16. This exhibition will be part of a larger focus on the Parable of the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15, throughout Lent.

To learn more about the exhibition, and the opening weekend which begins with a reception from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, March 3, click here.

Between now and the opening of the exhibition, we will be sharing pieces from the collection and the story behind them. First Pres will display more than 40 pieces from dozens of artists in a variety of media. To learn more about the full collection and the stories behind it, special collector's books will be on sale. Stay tuned for more information on book sales and special events.

This collection was first gathered by Larry and Mary Gerbens, and features a mix of works they collected and works they commissioned around the theme of the Prodigal Son. They donated the collection to Calvin College, which in turn loans it out to churches and groups throughout the country. Larry and Mary will be with First Pres on opening weekend, and will speak at the opening on March 3, during services on Sunday, March 5 and at a special Collector's Lecture on Sunday, March 5 at 2 p.m. in the Sanctuary.

"The Prodigal Son" by Riojas was commissioned by the Gerbens in 2004. Larry Gerbens said of Riojas' work, "What I was really drawn to was Ed's quiet, self effacing integrity as an artist and man. His piece remains one of my favorites." (The Father & His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness, page 31)

According to his official site, Riojas has been creating artwork professionally for 35 years. He has a degree in fine arts and worked in the advertising industry as well as for newspapers. He's regarded in the secular and sacred realms as a masterful illustrator and artist. His sacred, representational style has been likened to the Northern Renaissance. His work is found in sanctuaries, institutions, private collections and other locations throughout the world.

In the book on the collection, Riojas talks a bit about his inspiration for the piece. Of it he said, "While those in darkness shy away from the true light, the Prodigal Son is brought into His marvelous light. The Father's kingdom is ripe with the fields of believers. But even as we are in the light, we sometimes stumble into the roles of the son's brothers, grumbling that he is allowed to enter the feast. The Father cares not that His goodness is showered on the least brother, but runs hard to his lost son." (The Father & His Two Sons: The Art of Forgiveness, page 30)

Be sure to check out Riojas' piece when you're next at First Pres.

Tags: art, parable, prodigal, worship

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