Advent begins November 28, and this year I will be publishing short daily posts that pair a visual artwork with a piece of music, most accompanied by brief commentary. (I did a trial run last Advent.) The primary purpose is to invite spiritual contemplation on the season’s themes, allowing artists to be our guide. I’ve been planning out the series since August—and ended up procuring ideas to last for three Advents!—and I’m really looking forward to presenting it. The daily posts in this format will extend through the twelve days of Christmas as well.
Contemporary singer-songwriters are heavily represented in the music selections, but there is also a Shaker hymn, an Appalachian spiritual, a Renaissance motet, a Byzantine troparion, a South African freedom song, sixties electronica, and a Victorian carol from Sussex. Many of these songs can be found on the Advent playlist I compiled. For the artworks, in addition to paintings there are a few installations, photographs, collages, a lithograph, a serigraph, a stencil print, a quilt, and a mosaic.
The recurring theme throughout, sometimes inherent to the artwork and in other cases brought about by a particular reading of it, is looking forward with hope and readiness to the coming of Christ, to the Light who will dispel darkness and bring justice and peace. “A new world is coming, and it’s just around the bend,” sings Nina Simone. May we welcome it with eager longing.
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Art credits: In the poster above, clockwise from top left, are Sun Tunnels by Nancy Holt, a detail of Night Travelers by Delita Martin, Christmas Tree by Shirazeh Houshiary, and a fresco from the Monastery of Saint John the Theologian in Chora on the island of Patmos.