Named after an anonymous work of Christian Mysticism written in the 14th century. The book counsels a young student to not seek God through knowledge and intellection but through contemplation motivated by love and experience. By admitting God is shrouded in mystery and putting all thought under a “cloud of forgetting” the closer we will be to God through the heart.
That is not to say that we are not filled with the potential of knowledge but knowledge will only get us so far to being present.
It is about having inner silence about our convictions, our various movements, our inherited traditions, our favorite ideas which opens us up to the patterns of work, knowledge and experience we would not have seen in the other or ourselves.
The cloud of unknowing Icon started as an Icon of Christ the Pantocrator. The Icon was finished but I was not happy with how it turned out and put it on a shelf. After Finding the icon 2 years later I decided to Gold leaf over it to use for another Icon only to discover that Christ’s face was still faintly visible through it yet from a distance simply looked like a plain gold-leafed board.
Putting it on exhibit last year I enjoyed standing back and watching people pass it by again and again and then watching the few people who, seeing it from a distance, were curious and looked closer.
I will admit that I do not always know what I am looking at in the personhood of Jesus, or in considering God, and the Holy-Spirit. I will admit I sometimes do not know what I am looking at when looking at myself. Yet, this is the mystery at the heart of being an artist. By letting our work go it can become something we would never have thought of.
I am grateful for the friendship and thoughts of Jane Gerdsen and Karl Stevens in the naming of this Icon.