The Tree of Life: Art, Salvation History, and the New Evangelization 2

The Tree of Life, Alison Batley, Intaglio Print, 2014

The Tree of Life, Alison Batley, Intaglio Print, 2014

This Tree of Life, intaglio print, is a meditation on the whole of salvation history. In the Genesis narrative, the Tree of Life was placed in the center of the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve had open access to this vital fruit. Instead, they chose to partake of the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, bringing about their expulsion and death. Man and woman became trapped within this spoiled produce, losing communion with God, with themselves, with each other, and with all of creation.

In the new creation, God, Himself, comes as the Tree of Life to meet man and woman and to free them from the bondage of sin. Mounted on the cross, Christ’s roots delve into the soil of which Adam and Eve had become, offering a connection back to the source of life.

Through the Incarnation, Jesus’ trunk like body takes on humanity. The wood of the cross is the structure that brings about our redemption. From His pierced heart, the veil is torn in two, as the blood of salvation and the water of rebirth gush forth giving birth to the Church. The streaming contours flowing from the right side of his body form a chalice surrounding his figure. Through His passion, death, and resurrection, the fruit of the Tree of Life is offered to all in the Eucharist. His arm like branches extend in an open invitation to humanity, “Take this, all of you, and eat it; this is my body which will be given up for you.”

Illuminated by the host like moon, Christ consummates the wedding feast and invites all to the banquet of eternal life. The bride, reflecting the light of the Son, is like Mary, the New Eve. Through her “fiat” she perpetually intercedes for her wounded children encouraging them to receive the bread of life. Through this fruit of everlasting life, all are called to set eyes on the Resurrected Savior and to live a transfigured life. This points us to our eternal destination … union with God in love through the Eternal Son.

This Intaglio print was inspired by John Paul II’s call to the New Evangelization to make contemporary epiphanies of beauty that inspire the contemplation of our faith.

About the Artist

Ali profileAlison Batley is an artist, designer, and high school art teacher. Ms. Batley just finished her M.F.A. in Printmaking at SCAD-Atlanta. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from N.C. State College of Design with a B.A. in Design, received her visual arts teaching certification from Meredith College, and studied two years of Theology at Aquinas College, in Nashville, TN. She is now serving as the Co-Chair for the global Bioethics Art Competition in conjunction with the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics and Human Rights.

Her work explores many aspects of what it means to be a human being, utilizing a variety of printmaking techniques and other two and three-dimensional mediums. Through visual metaphors, her work investigates the relationship and interconnectedness surrounding the human experience of love and life in our contemporary age.

2 comments

  1. There is geological evidence to locate the Garden of Eden at Jerusalem (see Gaines R. Johnson, The Bible: Genesis & Geology, Ch. 20). If true, the Cross of Christ may have been hewed from an actual biological descendant of the Tree of Life, just as long-standing oral tradition suggests.

    • I’d like to read more on that. These meaningful traditions of our faith always intrigue me and make me want to delve deeper into the connections. I especially love it when art and literature expresses those connections, as Tolkien does on various levels in The Lord of the Rings. Thanks for sharing your insight. God bless!

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