For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water . . .
I will open rivers on the bare heights,
and fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
—Isaiah 43:19 (from tomorrow’s Old Testament lection)
LOOK: Paper River Flow in the Desert by Young-Ly Hong Chandra
Born and raised in Seoul and currently living in Pasadena, Young-Ly Hong Chandra is an artist who works primarily with paper, fabric, and found objects and in a range of sizes, from small collages to large-scale installations. From October 2020 to June 2021 she was an artist in residence at the Brehm Center at Fuller Theological Seminary, and she is now a facilitator in the program. She is also an artist in residence with Inbreak.co.
One of the main materials Hong Chandra uses is hanji, traditional handmade paper from Korea made from the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree. She cuts the paper and paints it on both sides with acrylic, watercolor, and ink, then she applies a thin coat of transparent gel to make it more durable and waterproof. “Paper stained glass” is what she calls these creations.
For her Paper River Flow series, she attaches together numerous pieces of this paper stained glass to form long blue rolls that can be rolled up or folded and packed in a bag so that when she travels nationally or internationally, or when she moves about her home city, she can carry them with her and create installations as the mood strikes her. “I am a small river bearer,” she says, “who’s conveying the big vision of the river flow to give life to many and will reflect the glory of God clear as crystal.”
The photos in this post are from Joshua Tree National Park. View more at https://younglyhongchandra.com/home/paper-river.
Last year Fuller Studio created a six-minute film about Hong Chandra and her art, including her Paper River Flow series:
The river is a symbol of healing and renewal, she says. In our dryness, in our barrenness, God springs up, offering life and nourishment. The image of the river is used many times in the prophetic book of Isaiah—I’ve cited just a few examples above—and also appears in the final book of the New Testament, where it flows down from the throne of God, watering the new creation (Rev. 22:1–2). Hong Chandra says,
The image of river for me is from Revelation 22 . . . the river flowing in the holy city, reflecting the glory of the Lamb of God sitting on the throne. And what I’m doing is still far from reflecting that glory. But I want this piece to be an invitation to others to come and taste the living water that was given so freely.
LISTEN: “하나님께서 | Agua viva fluye del Señor | May the Love of God” by Young Beom Kim, 2002 (CCLI #6461951); Spanish translation by Josh Davis and Juan Alberto Camacho; English translation by Greg Scheer (CCLI #7035272) | Performed by Jaewoo Kim, Josh Davis, and Grace Funderburgh of Proskuneo Ministries, 2020
주 사랑 알기 원하네
Ha na neem geh suh
Dang shin eul tong heh
Meh malun ttang eh
Sehm mul nag geh ha shi gee lul
Ga nan han young hone
Mohk mal luhn young hone
Dang shin eul tong heh
Joo sarang ahl gee wun ha neh
Fluye del Señor
A través de ti
A esta tierra seca
Al que tiene sed
Dale de beber
Que el amor de Dios
Sea mostrado en ti siempre
May the love of God
Spring up in your soul
Like a healing stream
In the wilderness flowing
And may the love of God
Quench the thirsty soul
Feed the hungry heart
May the love of God flow through you