Thesis Exhibitions (2020-2021) > Elizabeth Kijowski

Artist Statement

Hesed: Redeeming Brokenness
This body of work explores the redemption of Naomi in the biblical story of Ruth through a multimedia experience utilizing visual art and music. The charcoal and clay used to create the visual art are from the earth, existing throughout history. Just as these materials still exist today, so the book of Ruth is relevant to our modern day, resonating with the broken pieces we call our lives.

The story is split into five parts, each of which reveals the changing mindset and emotions of Naomi. Every one of the five pieces of the story correlates with a movement in the music, a charcoal landscape, and a ceramic sculpture. The first landscape depicts the tomb of Naomi’s husband and sons. The first ceramic sculpture of Naomi illustrates her bitterness which blinds her from recognizing the loyalty of Ruth, her foreign daughter-in-law who chooses to move to Israel with her. The second pair of pieces dipicts Ruth gathering food in the field of Boaz, Naomi’s distant relative, and the favor Ruth finds when Boaz offers her food to bring back to Naomi. At the height of the story, Naomi takes an active role to bring about change as she instructs Ruth in proposing to Boaz. In this third part of the story, a sculpture of Ruth’s determined face is coupled with the landscape. After Ruth asks Boaz while at the threshing floor, she returns to Naomi with more grain from Boaz. This is depicted in the fourth pair of pieces. The story concludes with the redemption of Naomi’s legacy as Ruth marries Boaz and has a child. Here, another sculpture of Naomi accompanies the last charcoal landscape in which Ruth hands her baby to Naomi.

This is the story of Naomi’s transformation in light of the loving actions of Ruth. Whether it's loss of loved ones, rejection, or frustration with ourselves, there are circumstances that break us as people. Naomi’s brokenness speaks to each of us. Ruth’s extraordinary acts that reflect God’s steadfast love—hesed—play a key role in this story of redemption. In the same way, we can experience or display hesed in our interactions with ordinary and unlikely people. God doesn’t eliminate our brokenness but instead weaves hesed into it, creating redemption stories.

Determined Hope
12" x 8.5" x 8.5"
Boaz's Response
Charcoal on Craft Paper
72" x 30"