In every faith tradition, those who covenant to follow the path – make the life changes, eat the proper food, wear the correct clothing – are promised they will run and not be weary, walk and not faint, and have all the energy necessary to live doing the will of their Creator. These kinds of behaviors are kosher in Jewish traditions, halal in Muslim traditions, and known by other names in many, many faith paths around the world. Every morning, the faithful wake with the commitment in their heart to sacrifice elements of activity, food, or drink to show their love for their Creator. In some traditions the person makes these covenants individually after a Spirit walk, and in traditions like Judaism or Islam the various activities and foods are clearly defined. Regardless of what the specific sacrifices of food or behavior entail, the act is one of devotion and obedience – like the difference between the sacrifices of Cain and Abel, the element which validates the sacrifice is the contrite and worshipful heart.
This sculpture is based on 3000 year old batteries (called Baghdad or Turkish batteries) found in the deserts of the ancient Ottoman Empire; when rebuilt, the technology still delivered an electrical charge even after millenia. Rather than build a physical container like the pot – incidentally, the shape of these is remarkably consistent and closely resembles Greek vessels based on the Golden Ratio – I built a structure with radiating fins, revealing the vessel shape in negative space. The central core is out of copper, picked because the reddish color is reminiscent of blood, and the surrounding wrap is expanded steel alluding to the flexible strength of the soul. The radiating fins and expanded steel suggested in my mind early electronics technology developed in association with humans reaching into space, which felt appropriate for the piece.
The base is etched with a 13-fold interlaced star design, and there are 13 fins. Thirteen is the number of lunar months in a year, specifically important to the Muslim calendar. Thirteen is also five plus eight – five for the pillars of Islam and eight for the number of angels which will carry God’s throne on the day of judgment. Additionally, eight is a number which represents the bridge between mortality and the heavenly realm. In mosques and churches, the cube of the earth-bound building is topped by a heavenly dome, and the architectural device uniting the two shapes is an octagon; in Christian artistic tradition this shape became associated with the Word of God embodied in Jesus, and in Islamic tradition this shape alludes to the Word of God which is the Qur’an.
By embodying these ideas in the translucence of glass, these shapes come together in a Celestial battery. As faithful believers, we maintain a vessel for our soul and strive to live in a manner pleasing to our Creator. As we give ourselves to Him, He in turn blesses us with the spiritual energy and wherewithal to carry out His will – which ironically results in us becoming beings worthy of the fulness of the Divine blessing. By dedicating ourselves to obedience, a limitless future unfolds and we grow to become more than we can imagine.