« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Roxane B. Salonen, Special to The Forum , Published March 29 2013

Rembrandt masterpiece, ‘Prodigal Son,’ explored

The Rev. Greg Haman, Wahpeton, N.D., in no way claims to be an artist, but he does have a great affinity for art, particularly how it intersects with faith.

Ordained a priest just in June, Haman said his love for art first ignited while taking architecture classes at North Dakota State University at a time when his faith was also solidifying.

He was especially drawn by how one engages the other, he said.

“I’ve had a real appreciation for the richness of Christian art and for the artistic-creative side of the human person,” he said, “seeing something of the divine in the human person, who can create such things; things that use beauty to enrich our relationships.”

Recently, in preparation for a Scripture meditation for an art and faith event at Holy Spirit Church, Haman researched the featured art piece, Rembrandt’s The Prodigal Son, to better contribute to the experience.

“I understand it’s his last piece as an artist, and it’s interesting to consider how it reflects his approach and him as an artist,” Haman said.

Haman said Rembrandt’s Protestant background comes through the piece in the content, exhibiting a freedom that wasn’t allowed Catholic artists of the 1600s, who largely focused on images of the Madonna and Child or the Crucifixion.

“It’s very earthy. It’s got a real play of light and dark but not so striking and refined as his earlier works,” Haman said of the piece. “Earlier he used lots of detail and depictions of fabric and flowers, but here, he’s transitioning out of that and into something more human.”

The painting is in some ways bold, Haman observed, such as the red of the father’s cloak as he’s embracing his son, but not enough that would prevent the viewer to “stand and look at it more and not in any way be turned off by the boldness.”

Haman said though not everyone is steeped in art, “it’s in the human person to stop and be moved by something beautiful, and so this is something I appreciate as kind of the fruit of the spirit working in the Church, in the body of the believers of Christ.”

“I can take this work of art and be led into it, but there comes a point I have to step aside,” Haman said. “Eventually I have to leave the image and be led into the silence of prayer, the silence of my ears and eyes, away from the image itself so I can find Christ that’s speaking inside of me.”