Shannon Stooksbury

 In late 2020, a post showed up on my feed of my ex boyfriend, glowing and holding a hand decorated with a sparkling diamond. My heart ached wondering the ways in which he might be hurting her; and I questioned in myself, “was it really that bad?” After all, “maybe it was just me.”

 

     After I gained the courage, I contacted two of his exes, only to learn I was far from alone. Many long, difficult conversations later, we found ourselves in a coffee shop with a pastor from the church where he used to work. The pastor had long conversations with him and his fiancé, as well as consulting many other pastors. After so much pain was brought to the surface and his fiancé learned exactly who he was, they got married. Nothing changed. That is, he faced no real consequences. However, things did change for us, for the girls that I painted. We now have each other, and we know that we are not alone. His wife knows where to find us; His wife knows she is not alone. 

 

    I produced these paintings for a solo exhibit entitled “We All Hold the Face of God.” The purpose of my exhibit is to showcase the people who are so often cast aside from the fold of God. As these people are made in God’s image, they too must be included in the fold. To believe in one God in whose image we are made, one must be willing to see God in all people. To see a person made in the image of God as lesser-than is to say that this version of “God” is also lesser-than. Either this person was made in the image of an inferior god (in which case a monotheistic view is contradictory) or God Himself is flawed. Therefore, if one holds the belief that all humans are made in the image of God, they must acknowledge that no one person is inferior. 

 

Growing up, it is often pushed on young women that they must hide themselves; women should take up as little space as possible, doing so as quietly as possible. In my art I put women at center stage, allowing them the space to exist in whatever form they would like to. I choose to rediscover the human body, not as a thing of shame, but of beauty. I want to find beauty in things that are often perceived as flaws. My artwork is meant to glorify that which people so often try to hide. By portraying women nude in a traditional style often reserved for saints, women are valued and glorified in living color. I do so in acrylic paint based on photos taken by Ana Harff (used with permission). I hope that my artwork allows for every woman-and every person-to be given space to allow themselves to see their own bodies and the humanity of everyone around them as heavenly.

 

My art finds beauty in perceived flaws, to glorify that which is so often hidden or left unappreciated, because we all hold the face of God.