Monday, May 17, 2010


This piece (photo by Jeremy Winnick) is one of my favorites and is the second of its kind. Both versions of Leviathan are in private collections now and both were in exhibits in the last couple of years. Leviathan is the word given in Hebrew scriptures for a great sea monster and what I find so interesting about it is that in scripture it is both feared for its power and fury as well as being acknowledged for its placement in the creation by God for its playfulness. It is considered evil and needs to be destroyed for the good of other and for their feeding one moment and then it is portrayed as a big beast that plays with ships. One moment its destructive powers are horrors and the next they are given a charming character as if to say "well, monsters will be monsters!":

“ "Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness." ”
—KJV, Psalms 74:14

“ "O LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts. There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein." ”

The word Leviathan comes from the Hebrew and refers to its twisting and coiling - giving it characteristics of the snake. And the dragon is revered in China as a portrayal of both power and diversity of culture.

It is the Chinese influence which places these dragons or gargoyles on my pots from time to time. I like their menacing quality but also their playfulness. They remind me that I have the ability to do great good and great harm.

In the end art is from the artist and is, when it is best done, a portrayal of some aspect of the artist or what he or she sees or experiences. I think we all are connected to the entirety of the world and its natural creatures and so we are even connected to Leviathan and have some of it inside us. Whether it is playful or menacing seems to be a daily and moment by moment choice we make. God help us to make good choices.

1 comment:

  1. I was listening to NPR last week and heard about the discovery of an ancient sperm whale that scientists have named: Leviathan melvillei - I stopped and remembered your Leviathan posts. (Here's an article from the LA Times if you're curious: ) -- Regards, Kersten