Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Four Easter Story Paintings by Australian Aboriginal Artist Linda Naparula Walker

Australian Aboriginal artist Linda Naparula Walker is a Warlpiri woman from Yuendumu Community in Central Australia.  Her father taught her to paint when she was a teenager.  He told her all the stories she could paint and share through her art.  Linda would travel all over Australia with her father, helping him do his ‘dots’ as she learnt from him.  Her own paintings have been featured in group art shows in Australia and the U.S.  Some of Linda's other paintings can be seen herehere and here.

In 2011 Linda created four Easter paintings that show the progression of Easter week events from Palm Sunday through Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday (the painting images and a brief title for each can be found here).  They are featured as part of a 2012 "Victory by the Cross" Easter resource pack created by the Salvation Army in Australia.  The resource pack focuses on the Christus Victor theory of the atonement. The basis for the theme “Victory by the Cross” comes from Colossians 2:15 “having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (TNIV). The majority of the biblical material is taken from Colossians and from Luke’s account of the crucifixion. Luke is used for the narrative and Colossians for the explanation of how the cross is God’s triumph over evil.

The pack's resources include Sermon Outlines, PowerPoints and Videos for Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.  Unfortunately, these resources do not make use of Linda's paintings as part of the materials (except for being shown in the PowerPoints), though otherwise the resource pack is a great resource on the Easter theme of Jesus as Victor.

This leads me to ask: what would it be like to somehow create a series of resources that are based on Aboriginal themes and art, for either Aboriginals audiences and/or non-Aboriginal audiences (what I mean by that is that non-Aboriginal audiences might not be familiar with Aboriginal stories and concepts, although I suppose that these could be explained in the materials)?  The closest things I know of is the series of Bible Thangkas (with accompanying Tibetan Hope DVD) produced by The Tibetan Storytelling Project (TSP) for use by trained presenters, and the drawings and dances created by Aboriginal Warlpiri Christians documented in Their Way: Toward an Indigenous Warlpiri Christianity.  Another related example is The Rainbow Spirit in Creation: A Reading of Genesis 1, though I question some specific points of its theology.  These three resources range from evangelistic (Bible Thangkas and Their Way) to an expression of indigenous biblical theology for Aboriginal Christians (Their Way and The Rainbow Spirit in Creation).

Or something.  These are just thoughts.  Of course, different approaches would have to be developed depending on whether or not you're dealing with oral learners.  And ultimately, it would be hoped that such materials could be developed by indigenous Christians themselves.

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