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Rex Hausmann: “The Prayer”
“The Prayer” (2020) by Rex Hausmann
48×72″ Acrylic on canvas with a coin from Saint Paul de Vence and San Antonio Tiles
See larger image below
At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis I called a friend, Dustin. He is a physical therapist at a local hospital in San Antonio and is the man responsible for teaching me how to walk again after I was shot in a near-fatal accident five years ago. Since then, he and his wife, baby, dog Coop and cats Carlos and Hobbs have become good friends. I asked him, “What, as an artist, could I do to help at this time?” He responded, “You have a very important job, my man: make images and show people your work, color, joy, and life. We need art now more than ever. We will need art in the coming months more than ever.” During this time I have produced two large works, one for Mark and Denise Homer in San Antonio, Texas, The Processional, and another private work, The Prayer.
As an artist, the greatest gift that God has given me is the ability to create images and tell stories. This particular image is about Mary’s prayer. Many works of art influenced my painting but, in this particular case, The Merode Altarpiece triptych by Robert Campin (1428) was the main source of inspiration. I have viewed this work of art at the Cloisters in New York City many times over the course of 14 years. The Merode Altarpiece Is a fairly small work of art located in a quiet corner of the museum. Campin illustrates The Annunciation in a humble domestic setting with Mary reading her book of prayers while Joseph is hard at work making mouse traps.
The title of my painting, The Prayer, is inspired by Andrea Bocelli’s Easter Sunday 2020 performance in the Duomo Cathedral in Milan. The cathedral may have been empty of worshippers but the Holy Spirit was present. Since the performance was livestreamed, all people in the world were linked, including my entire family as we gathered around our computer screens. When Bocelli sang, it was a moment in time when the arts were speaking for all humanity. Though we couldn’t gather together in person, we were all connected through the arts.
The most prominent feature in my painting is a dove with outstretched wings. This represents the Holy Spirit, something we are all in need of right now given the current world environment due to COVID-19. As Christians, we must trust that God is in control. In the center of the painting a bright Southern Texas sunset alludes to the beauty of every day and an assurance that God causes the sun to rise, no matter what.
Look closely at my painting and you will see small numbers scattered throughout. 1) The Christ Child’s arrival on a beam of light, 2) A crucifix, 3) The word “Jubilation.” These three elements naturally refer to the birth, death, and resurrection of Christ and the celebration of Easter Sunday. Fittingly, this work of art was completed on Easter Sunday 2020 while under quarantine in San Antonio.
There are specific references to San Antonio in my painting besides the blazing Texas sunset. The small tiles around the painting piece reference San Antonio. My hope is that The Prayer will bring comfort to people whose lives have been disrupted during this crisis. I chose to focus on the story of the Resurrection and the themes of life and hope conquering death and fear. Although Easter Sunday 2020 was shadowed by fear, anxiety, and separation, it was also a time for hope, prayer, and community.